February 27, 2023

NAB Online Retail Sales Index: January 2023

In month-on-month terms, growth returned to the NAB Online Retail Sales Index, following on from a weak December result.

  • On a month-on-month, seasonally adjusted basis, growth returned in January (+0.6%), following a contraction in December.
  • In year-on-year terms however, the contraction, which had eased in November, continued to worsen in January (-8.5% y/y).
  • Monthly growth in January was driven by two smaller spend share categories, takeaway food, and games and toys, along with department stores, and fashion. This offset a contraction in homewares and appliances, grocery and liquor, personal and recreational, and smaller sales category, media. In year-on-year terms, only media, and takeaway food recorded growth.
  • Growth was slightly negative for NSW in the month, and in line with the headline for the two other large sales states, VIC and QLD. Much stronger growth for WA and the smaller sales states, except TAS which contracted again. In year-on-year terms, all except NT contracted, with ACT, NSW, SA, and TAS worse than the headline.
  • Regional areas generally fared better in the month, with WA leading. The exception to this was regional NSW, which fared much worse than metro areas. In year-on-year terms, the contraction in regional areas was slightly better relative to metro areas. This was the case in all states except SA.
  • Growth was slightly slower than the overall for domestic retailers in the month, with international retailers much faster. In year-on-year terms, the contraction in growth for domestic retailers continues to reflect base effects of elevated growth the year prior.
  • NAB estimates that in the 12 months to January, Australians spent $53.31 billion on online retail, a level that is around 13% of the total retail trade estimate (December 2022, Series 8501, Australian Bureau of Statistics), and a contraction (-1.4%) relative to the 12 months to January 2022.

NAB Chief Economist, Alan Oster commented:

In month-on-month terms, growth returned to the NAB Online Retail Sales Index, following on from a weak December result. This is also reflected in our broader retail sales measure which indicates a rebound in January. Monthly growth returned to most states this month, with growth in the larger sales states generally more moderate than that recorded by some of the smaller sales states. In year-on-year terms, a stronger contraction was observed in January. While the base effects of the past two years are beginning to ease somewhat, this month’s result is a comparison to a strong result the year prior.

By category this month, the largest sales category, homewares and appliances, continued to contract. This was a far smaller monthly decline when compared to the December result for the category. However, in year-on-year terms, January was much lower than the same month a year prior. The lower sales growth of the category is continuing to erode its share in the index. Conversely, takeaway food, media, and to a lesser extent, department stores, and games and toys, gained share in the index over the past 12 months.

Get all the insights in the NAB Online Retail Sales Index (January 2023)