Online-only retailers are winning the battle for Australia’s lockdown dollars, according to a new analysis of spending habits, with players like eBay and Amazon faring better than the digital outlets of brick-and-mortar stores.
Fresh data from analytics firm illion and consultants Accenture suggests eBay faced the largest spike in spending through the recent lockdowns of Sydney and Melbourne, compared to both 2020 and pre-COVID levels.
eBay sales peaked at 310 per cent over ‘normal’ levels through the latest lockdowns, the analysis states. Spending on the auction site also peaked at 55% over 2020 lockdown levels, suggesting a tide of buyers chasing both new and used goods in recent months.
Amazon also fared well, the data shows. Spending peaked at 122% above normal levels through the most recent restrictions, with Australian expenditure double that experienced through the lockdowns of 2020.
Australian fashion retailer The Iconic continued to fill wardrobes and empty bank accounts, with recent spending 16% above the peaks experienced through the lockdowns of 2020, and 53% above average levels.
But major retail chains offering both online options and click-and-collect services did not experience the same drastic upticks.
Hardware megastore Bunnings saw spending drop 35% through the most recent lockdowns compared to the peak of spending in 2020, a likely function of construction seizing up across NSW and Victoria due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Spending is still 11% above average levels, the report notes.
Other department store giants have lost ground to their wholly online competitors. Myer, which has fully capitalised on click-and-collect sales, saw spending grow 28% compared to the peaks of 2020 lockdowns. Even so, spending at Myer is half that of pre-COVID conditions.
Kmart, Big W, and Target, all of which boosted sales through the lockdowns of 2020, have seen expenditure recede in recent months, the analysis suggests, with all three chains now facing sales below average levels.
Through the most recent lockdowns, premium retailer David Jones appears to have suffered a spending downfall of 68%.
The focus on online-only outlets suggests Australians are enamoured by major digital-first outlets, illion CEO Simon Bligh said.
“People want to spend their money but we’ve found that has shifted to strong online platforms that specialise in online experiences,” he said.
While Bligh added that four months of lockdown is long enough to embed those shopping habits, the recent reopening of non-essential retail in NSW and forthcoming tweaks to Victoria’s own lockdown measures may tilt the balance back to in-person sales.
That shift could not come soon enough for Australia’s department store sector, with the illion and Accenture index showing spending is far below October 2020 levels — and minuscule compared to the Christmas 2020 peak.