Impact of income management on store sales in the Northern Territory

Julie K Brimblecombe, Joseph McDonnell, Adam Barnes, Joanne Garnggulkpuy Dhurrkay, David P Thomas and Ross S Bailie
Med J Aust 2010; 192 (10): 549-554.


Objective: To examine the impact of a government income management program on store sales.

Design and setting: An interrupted time series analysis of sales data in 10 stores in 10 remote Northern Territory communities during 1 October 2006 to 30 September 2009, which included an 18-month period before income management; a 4–6-month period after the introduction of income management; a 3-month period that coincided with a government stimulus payment; and the remaining income-management period.

Main outcome measures: Trends in (i) total store sales; (ii) total food and beverage sales; (iii) fruit and vegetables sales; (iv) soft drink sales; and v) tobacco sales.

Results: Modest monthly increases indicative of inflation were found for all outcome measures before the introduction of income management, except for soft drink sales, which remained constant. No change from the increasing rate of monthly sales before income management was seen in the first 4–6 months of income management or for the income-management period thereafter for total store sales, food and beverage sales, fruit and vegetable sales and tobacco sales. The rate of soft drink sales declined significantly with the introduction of income management and then increased significantly thereafter. The 3-month government stimulus payment period (during the period of income management) was associated with a significant increase in the rate of sales for all outcome measures.

Conclusion: Income management independent of the government stimulus payment appears to have had no beneficial effect on tobacco and cigarette sales, soft drink or fruit and vegetable sales.

  • Julie K Brimblecombe1
  • Joseph McDonnell1
  • Adam Barnes2
  • Joanne Garnggulkpuy Dhurrkay3
  • David P Thomas1
  • Ross S Bailie1

  • 1 Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin, NT.
  • 2 Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation, Darwin, NT.
  • 3 Yalu’Marnggithinyaraw Centre, Galiwin’ku, NT.


We are grateful to Robyn Liddle for providing expertise and intellectual input in database design and application; ALPA, and particularly the store managers who helped with data checking; and Professor Kerin O’Dea for her comments on the manuscript. Julie Brimblecombe is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council Public Health Postdoctoral Training Fellowship.

Competing interests:

Julie Brimblecombe was commissioned by the ALPA to undertake a preliminary study that was later extended to include the 10 communities in this study.


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