Growth, inflation and labour market all easing
In month-on-month terms, our NAB Online Retail Sales Index contracted in February.
NAB Chief Economist, Alan Oster commented:
In month-on-month terms, our NAB Online Retail Sales Index contracted in February. For our online series, growth over the past two years has been particularly volatile, with the standard deviation more than double that compared to the first eight years of the series. Looking through this monthly volatility, using the year-on-year and 12-months-to measures, online sales continue to trend up.
Our broader measure of retail trade, the nab cashless retail index, suggests retail was up in February. So, it is likely that, with the easing of instore restrictions in most states in February, instore sales were boosted. The national two dose vaccine rate currently sits at around 95% of those aged 16plus, and over 65% for boosters. At the same time, rates of infection from the omicron wave, which peaked in most states December and January, began to ease. It is clear from the past two years that variant spikes are correlated with stronger online activity, as is subsequent easing once the peak passes.
By category, interest in takeaway food continued, albeit at a rate slower than the prior two months. For all other categories, the monthly result was either flat or recorded a contraction in growth. The biggest drop in monthly growth was in grocery and liquor, but this follows strong growth in January. The contraction in growth for the category was generally consistent across states, except VIC and ACT, which fared slightly better. Over the year though, grocery and liquor has contributed heavily to growth in online sales, except for WA, where growth was more subdued.
This month in the heat map section, we take a look at Media, and the change in growth compared to the pre-pandemic period.
Get all the insights in the NAB Online Retail Sales Index (February 2022)
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