Our NAB Online Retail Sales Index data indicates that, while slowing slightly, growth continued in December.
The NAB Online Retail Sales Index continued to grow in December (+2.0%) on a month-on-month, seasonally adjusted basis. This follows on from the upwardly revised strong growth in November (2.7% mom, s.a.). The strength in December was boosted by the weekend continuation of the Black Friday sales event into the Cyber Monday period.
In year-on-year terms, the growth in the NAB Online Retail Sales Index strengthened (+13.3% y/y s.a.) in December, and continues to outpace the broader ABS retail sales series.
All categories, except fashion, recorded sales growth in month-on-month growth terms. The largest sales category, homewares and appliances (+1.5% mom, s.a.), continued to grow at a rate lower than the overall. Growth was again strongest in the month for the smallest spend share category, takeaway food, followed by second smallest spend share category, games and toys, and larger spend share category, department stores. Grocery and liquor sales accelerated in the month (+1.2% mom, s.a.), and is approximately 17.8% larger compared to the same period 2018. For more detail, see Charts 3, 5, 7 & 8 below.
In month-on-month terms, all states and territories except Tas. recorded sales growth. QLD and ACT grew fastest in the month, though Vic, which had a much slower sales month, still leads in year-on-year terms.
Sales growth in metro areas grew faster than regional areas on a month-on-month basis. In year-on-year terms, Qld was strongest for metro areas, while Vic was fastest for regional growth. See Charts 15 and 16 for more detail.
The slightly slower growth for domestic merchants in December was in-line with the overall index. International merchant sales, while still positive, slowed far more than the total. In year-on-year terms, international merchant sales continue to recover from a sales slump in the first half of the year. In contrast to the headline result, fashion for international retailers recorded growth in the month, and personal and recreational outpaced domestic retailer growth. See charts 13 and 14, and table 3 for category growth and share.
We estimate that in the 12 months to December, Australians spent $30.53 billion on online retail, a level that is around 9.3% of the total retail trade estimate (November 2019, Series 8501, Australian Bureau of Statistics), and about 9.7% higher than the 12 months to December 2018.