Online retailers largely avoid the January doldrums to equal sales growth high - NAB

4 March 2013

National Australia Bank’s (NAB) latest Online Retail Sales Index has been released today showing online sales have grown 27 per cent to total $13 billion for the 12 months to January 2013.

The growth rate, which matches the high recorded in November, shows renewed strength within the online sector during what is traditionally a period of weakness post Christmas. It remains substantially higher than the 0.4 per cent rate posted by the traditional retail sector for the same period.

NAB Chief Economist Alan Oster said: “The latest index shows the continued strength in the online retail market. December might not have been as strong as it normally is, with growth dipping to 23 per cent, but January proved a lot more resilient than previous years and growth bounced back to its November high.

“The increase in sales in January suggests the recent lift in consumer confidence has flowed through to some online retailers.”

NAB’s Retail Sector Head, Tiernan White, said the strong result has been led by domestic online sales. “They grew 28 per cent compared to the 25 per cent growth in online sales from international retailers,” Mr White said. “Domestic retailers still account for almost three quarters of sales.

“It’s clear that online sales are becoming a larger proportion of retailer turnover. The key for retailers is to ensure their online offering complements and supports their core business. The successful retailers are taking a multi-channel approach and providing their customers with alternative ways to shop.”

Online sales as a percentage of total retail spending have plateaued, standing at 5.8 per cent compared to 5.6 per cent in November 2012.

Overall key findings

Who are the big spenders?

There has been minimal change in the share of total online spending by age group. The under 30, 30+ and 40+ age groups each account for 23 per cent of the total. Shoppers in their 30s and 40s recorded the strongest levels of per capita spending during the quarter.

Metro vs regional spend

The majority of online spending is still concentrated in metropolitan areas, with city dwellers accounting for 71 per cent of total spending in the year to January 2013. Growth rates for the two regions are tracking closely, with metro growth now at 23 per cent and regional growth now at 22 per cent. Regional Western Australia continues to report strong growth, albeit from a low base while regional Victoria has recorded the weakest level of per capita spending.

Share of state spending

NSW (33.5%), VIC (23.4%) and QLD (18.8%) account for 76% of total online spending. On a per capita basis, the ACT has the strongest level of spending followed by the NT and WA.

What are they spending on?

Sector 1.
Online Auctions, Department Stores, Fashion, Cosmetics, Variety Stores
Sector 2.
Home, Furniture, Appliances, Electronics
Sector 3.
Recreation, Toys, Games & Hobbies, Music, Movies, Books
Sector 4.
Groceries, Liquor & Specialised Food
All ages 48% 19% 21% 13%
Under 30s 53% 16% 27% 5%
30s 48% 18% 21% 13%
40s 47% 21% 19% 14%
50s 47% 22% 17% 14%
60+ 39% 22% 15% 24%

Full Report

The full report is available on our Research and Insights Blog.

Media contact

Catherine Woods (NAB)
M: +61 (0) 477 320 333