NAB: Online sales picked up in December -- but growth is slowing

Getty/Dan Kitwood

Australians returned to buying online in December but growth in sales is still slowing, according to the NAB Online Retail Sales Index.

The activity was modest with online retail sales up just 0.1% in December (for an annual growth rate of 8.9%) compared to a 0.3% fall in November.

Online sales are expected to fall further as the weakening Australian dollar makes buying from the US less attractive.

Official Australian Bureau of Statistics numbers show growth at comparable traditional retailers in November to be 0.7% higher than October, and 3.9% higher than a year ago.

In dollar terms, the NAB estimates Australians spent $16.4 billion on online retail in the 12 months to December.

This is equivalent to 6.8% of spending at traditional bricks and mortar retailers.

In annual figures to December, all categories except of Daily Deals recorded growth.

Groceries and Liquor (19%) saw the highest year on year growth, followed by Electronic Games and Toys (14%), though growth for the latter is down from the circa 40% over past two months.

Homewares and Appliances (10%) rebounded from a contraction in November. Other key growth areas included Department and Variety stores (8%), Fashion (8%) and Media (7%), while Personal and Recreational goods grew at a more modest rate (2%). Daily Deals continued to contract (-11%).

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