Australians spent up big online in the lead-up to Christmas

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Australian online retail sales surged in December, offering encouragement before the release of official figures from the ABS tomorrow.

The NAB’s online retail sales index jumped by 1.8%, following an upwardly revised 1.2% increase in November, leaving the annual increase at 11.2% after seasonal adjustments.

In trend terms, growth of 0.6% was recorded, down fractionally on the 0.7% increase of November.

Here’s Alan Oster, chief economist at the NAB, on the internal movements of the index by category:

By Category, in month on month terms, all categories except Electronic Games and Toys (-0.5% mom, s.a.) recorded growth in December. Highest growth was in the Daily Deals category (4.3% mom, s.a). Next highest in the month was Groceries and liquor (4.2% mom s.a.), and Department & Variety stores (2.1% mom s.a.), and Fashion (1.8% mom s.a.). The new category of online orders of Takeaway food, at 1.48% (mom s.a) was next, followed by both Media, and Homewares and Appliances (1.1% mom s.a.). Sub 1% growth was recorded in Personal and Recreational (0.8% mom, s.a.).

In year on year terms, the strongest growth categories were Food (42.4%), Toys (30.8%), and Media (21.9%) with the weakest Daily Deals (-7%), Department stores (2.5%), and Homewares and Appliances (5.2%)

Over the year, the NAB estimates that online sales totaled $19.1 billion, equating to 6.6% of sales at traditional bricks and mortar stores in the 12 months to November 2015.

The ABS will release its separate retail sales report for December at 11.30am AEDT on Friday.

Based on a survey of 20 economists conducted by Thomson Reuters, the median market forecast is for an increase of 0.5%. Estimates range from an increase between 0.2% to 1.0%.

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