May 27, 2024

NAB Online Retail Sales Index: April 2024

Online retail sales growth accelerated in April, after being close to flat in March.

  • On a month-on-month, seasonally adjusted basis, growth accelerated in April (1.3%), following an unrevised March (0.3%).
  • Growth also accelerated in year-on-year terms (16.4% y/y), partly boosted by base effects of key categories.
  • Broad growth recorded by category in April, with the exception of takeaway food, and personal and recreational goods. A return to growth for the largest sales category, homewares and appliances, contributed strongly to the headline, along with department stores. The latter category has generally outpaced most other categories over recent months, with year-on-year growth boosted as a result. A contraction in takeaway food was more than offset, given relative weights, by an increase in grocery and liquor.
  • Growth for all states except TAS this month, with the two largest sales states, NSW and VIC, again contributing heavily to the result. For VIC, growth was strongest for large sales category homewares and appliances, while for NSW, department stores contributed significantly more to its growth. SA also recorded strong growth, with a considerable boost this month from grocery and liquor.
  • Particularly strong growth for metro NSW this month, along with regional VIC, QLD, and WA. In year-on-year terms, metro still leads for all except QLD and TAS. Generally, growth of the two series over the past few months has converged.
  • Both Domestic and International retailers recorded growth in the month, with the latter returning to growth after two consecutive monthly contractions. For international retailers, large share category, fashion, contributed strongly to the result. In year-on-year terms, the gap between domestic and international widened with domestic again outpacing international. Per previous notes, some context is required here re base effects.
  • NAB estimates that in the 12 months to April, Australians spent $57.14 billion on online retail, a level that is around 13.4% of the total retail trade estimate (March 2024, Series 8501, Australian Bureau of Statistics), with growth continuing (7.8%), and accelerating since the latter part of 2023.

NAB Chief Economist, Alan Oster commented:

In month on month, seasonally adjusted terms, online retail sales growth accelerated in April, after being close to flat in March. The result is again somewhat in line with our broader retail series, which returned to growth after contracting in March. Having said that, the performance of online retail over the past few months has outpaced broader retail, leading to the continued increase in the online share.

The results for food and beverage related goods are also worth highlighting. This is the second consecutive month where takeaway food has contracted, and the category has been relatively subdued since the start of the year. This is in contrast to growth in the online grocery and liquor category, which has outpaced it. This may suggest consumers are becoming more focussed on budget saving measures. While it is difficult to firmly say whether there is a preference shift underway between these categories, if this trend continues, and monthly movements begin to shift the annual result, then this explanation becomes more likely.

Get all the insights in the NAB Online Retail Sales Index – April 2024