Growth, inflation and labour market all easing
The NAB Online Retail Sales Index returned to growth in January, after a short sharp contraction in December.
The NAB Online Retail Sales Index growth rebounded in January (4.0%), from a revised contraction in December (-4.7%), on a month-on-month, seasonally adjusted basis.
NAB Chief Economist, Alan Oster commented:
In month-on-month terms, our NAB Online Retail Sales Index returned to growth in January, after a short sharp contraction in December. When comparing this January to 2020, i.e. in year-on-year terms, the index continues to grow strongly, just under the pace set between April and November (50% to 60%). Lockdowns are likely to be again impacting the data, with NSW returning to monthly growth rates from mid-2020. It is likely that February data will see some effect from the WA and VIC ‘Circuit breaker’ lockdowns, given that in November, SA had experienced a 3 day lockdown, and recorded the highest growth for that month.
The relevance of takeaway food is increasing for online retail. While it is still the smallest share of spend, with such high growth over the past year, its share of spend has increased from 4.1% a year ago to 5.3% in January. The largest contribution to growth for this category in January was from the two biggest sales states, NSW and VIC. Growth was in line with overall growth for the largest sales category, homewares and appliances. But this growth was far from uniform across states, with the big drop in homewares and appliances in the month for TAS contributing heavily to the result for that state. This large contraction more than neutralised growth for other categories in TAS. In contrast, for NSW and VIC, sales for the Homewares were either at or above state growth.
In January, most states recorded growth, but the growth tended to be more mixed by region. In NSW and WA, regional areas far outpaced metro areas in month-on-month terms, whereas the result for VIC was far closer, and QLD and SA recorded higher growth in metro areas. For TAS, as mentioned above, a big drop in Homewares and appliances, driven by metro areas, contributed heavily to the result for that state. Over the year though, metro areas are still outpacing regional, led by VIC.
For further details, please see the NAB Online Retail Sales Index January 2021
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