March 27, 2024

NAB Online Retail Sales Index: February 2024

Growth slowed but remained positive in February

  • On a month-on-month, seasonally adjusted basis, growth slowed but remained positive in February (1.0%), following a significantly revised January (3.5%, was 11.1%).
  • Growth slowed slightly in year-on-year terms (14.8% y/y), again, following on from a significantly revised January.
  • All categories except fashion, and games and toys, recorded growth in February. Particularly strong growth for department stores, along with takeaway food, which also recorded growth above the overall index. The largest sales category, homewares and appliances, while slowing, recorded the third fastest rate in the month, albeit still slower than the overall. Department stores led year-on-year growth.
  • Growth recorded for all states this month, except Tas, with the smaller states (ex-Tas) generally above the rate of the broader index. Of the large sales states, VIC was almost flat, while QLD recorded growth faster than the overall.
  • Growth observed for metro and regional areas this month, albeit both slowed. The strength for metro areas was particularly noticeable in QLD, while regional growth was led by SA. In year-on-year terms, metro areas continue to lead regional, with a noticeable gap between the two for WA and NSW.
  • Domestic retailers recorded slowing growth in the month, while international retailers recorded a slight contraction. In year-on-year terms, growth for domestic outpaced international, albeit this is to a reference month in 2023 where domestic growth contracted.
  • NAB estimates that in the 12 months to February, Australians spent $56.0 billion on online retail, a level that is around 13.2% of the total retail trade estimate (January 2024, Series 8501, Australian Bureau of Statistics), and a continuation of moderate growth (5.6%) relative to the 12 months to February 2023.

NAB Chief Economist, Alan Oster commented:

In month on month, seasonally adjusted terms, growth slowed in February from a significantly revised January. The revision made to the January estimate was the result of a data quality issue in the original series that we’re currently reviewing. That said, even with downward revisions to the data, online retail sales outpaced broader retail sales in January. Based on our broader series, this is likely to continue in February. Looking at near term expectations, it is reasonable to foresee more moderate growth in online sales as pressure on the consumer remains.

By category and state this month, results were quite mixed. Moderate growth in the fashion category for NSW, VIC and SA was offset by falls in the other states, particularly WA and QLD. Growth was generally consistent for department stores in the large sales states, and at the other end of the growth spectrum, growth was negative in the games and toys category for all states except QLD. While ACT led overall growth in month-on-month terms, this was mostly due to the performance of two key categories, homewares and appliances, and department stores.

Get all the insights in the NAB Online Retail Sales Index (February 2024)

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