Growth in online shopping in Australia is slowing fast

Australians are shying away from shopping on the internet, at least according to spending figures released by the National Australia Bank (NAB) earlier today.

The bank’s Online Retail Sales Index — a measure of spending on retail goods — fell by 0.8% in April, reversing a similar gain in March.

The decline left year-on-year growth at 6.9%, a sharp deceleration on the 10.5% pace reported previously.

Smoothing out the volatility in the seasonally adjusted figures, the NAB said that monthly online sales in trend terms slowed to just 0.1%.

That’s weak, and well below the trend levels seen just a few years ago. It also mirrors the same trend in traditional bricks and mortar retail sales which have also been softening.

Clearly something is afoot with Australian consumers. Spending isn’t anywhere near as strong as it was in the past, at least when it comes to retail goods.

This chart from the NAB shows how growth in online retail spending has all but stalled over the past few months, flattening off after years of strong increases.

Source: NAB

Like the deceleration in the headline year-on-year growth rate reported, the NAB said that most categories also saw spending levels slow from a year earlier.

The most pronounced spending slowdowns were recorded in personal and recreational goods, department stores and on fashion.

Media, at 16.3%, recorded the fastest annual growth of any category, narrowly shading spending on games and toys at 14.9%.

In dollar terms, the NAB estimates that Australians spent $22.37 billion online over the past 12 months, accounting for around 7.3% of total sales and traditional retailers.

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