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Australian online spending accelerated sharply last month

Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Australian online retail sales rose strongly in February, suggesting that sales and traditional brick-and-morter retailers may have also accelerated after two months of underwhelming growth.

The NAB’s online retail sales index grew by 0.8% in seasonally adjusted terms, leaving annual growth in online spending at 10.4%. From a dollar perspective, the bank estimates that Australians spent $19.2 billion online in the 12 months to February, equating to around 6.6% of traditional retail sales seen in the year to January 2016.

According to the NAB, all retail categories sectors except Daily Deals websites (-3.1%) recorded sales that were higher than February last year.

Food Catering maintained the highest annual growth (35.6% yoy from 42.1% in January). Second highest growth category Electronic Games and Toys accelerated (35% vs 26.6%). Both of these categories still represents a relatively small share of spend. Although only 4th fastest, sales growth in fashion increased rapidly (13.6% vs 6.8%). All other categories had slower growth rates: Media (21.1% vs 23.8%), Personal and Recreational Goods (4.5% vs 10.9%), Grocery and Liquor (4.2% vs 4.7%), Homewares and Appliances (2.7% vs 3.3%), and Department & Variety Stores (2.5% vs 3.4%).

Next Monday the ABS will release its February retail sales report. After a modest decline in December and 0.3% increase in January, it will be interesting to see whether the increase in online spending is mirrored in traditional retail spending.

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