The number of actively trading retail businesses in Australia dropped by 2.4 per cent between 2008-09, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

This is in comparison to the overall national average of all actively trading businesses in Australia which fell by 1 per cent in the same year.

According to the ABS, the decline is due to a decrease in new business registrations during 2008-09 while the business exit rate remained steady during the same period, at 15.4 per cent for the past two financial years.

However, retail trade has one of the highest business entry survival rates of 75.7 per cent during the 2007-08 financial year, well above the national rate of 71.5 per cent.

Also, the figures show that a vast majority of Australian businesses employ less than 20 staff and have an annual turnover of less than $2 million.