NAB Online Retail Sales Index: June 2021

NAB Online Retail Sales Index accelerated in June, following the May rebound.

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  • Growth accelerated for the NAB Online Retail Sales Index in June (7.6%), following an upwardly revised May (3.3%, previously 2.7%), on a month-on-month, seasonally adjusted basis.
  • In year-on-year terms, the growth in the NAB Online Retail Sales Index accelerated back to double digits in June (18.1% y/y). Year-on-year growth had previously begun to moderate, given the base effects from high growth for the same period 2020.  
  • Growth was recorded in month-on-month terms for all categories, except Takeaway food, which contracted again. The largest sales category, homewares and appliances, which had returned to growth in May, accelerated further in June with growth above the broader index. Even faster growth in the month was recorded by department stores, which now also leads in year-on-year terms.
  • In month-on-month terms, online sales growth accelerated in all states and territories, except NT, in June. Growth was led by VIC and ACT.  VIC ranked 1st this month for homewares and appliances, fashion, media, and personal goods, and was 2nd or 3rd in others. Double digit growth was recorded for grocery and liquor in NSW, which led by category in the month. While a moderate contraction was recorded for takeaway food in June, this result was weighted towards NSW and QLD, with growth recorded in other areas, particularly ACT, VIC, and SA.
  • Monthly growth in online sales was higher in metro areas, driven by the big three sales states – VIC, NSW, and QLD. For both NSW and VIC, growth in metro areas was nearly one and a half times that of regional areas in June, and in year-on-year terms, nearly double. TAS was the only state in June where growth was faster in regional areas in year-on-year terms.
  • Sales growth was recorded for both domestic and international merchants this month, albeit with the former much stronger. Sales growth for international merchants was slower than domestic in all categories, except games and toys, and takeaway food.
  • NAB estimates that in the 12 months to June, Australians spent $48.6 billion on online retail, a level that is around 13.3% of the total retail trade estimate (Preliminary June 2021, Series 8501, Australian Bureau of Statistics), and about 34.9% higher than the 12 months to June 2020.

NAB Chief Economist, Alan Oster commented:

In month-on-month terms, our NAB Online Retail Sales Index accelerated in June, following the May rebound. Growth also accelerated when comparing this June to 2020, i.e. in year-on-year terms. This indicates considerable strength in the index, given that the base of June 2020, had already grown 53% on June 2019. Year-on-year growth had been trending lower earlier in the year, but has picked up recently, and in June, there was a strong contribution from key online sectors to the headline result.

Growth in monthly sales in June was driven by VIC, which has grown strongly over the past two months after contracting in April. Given the patterns observed over the past year, it is likely that this result has been strongly influenced by the lockdown period. Having said that, online sales growth accelerated in states and territories with and without lockdown in the month. ACT for example, without lockdown, was second fastest in the month, so it is likely that part of this growth is related to other drivers, like sales events. As noted last month, growth for takeaway food seems to contract in the early part of a lockdown, and then recovers. This pattern has again held true for the states that entered some form of lockdown in the month, albeit with limited timeseries, it is more an observation than statistically robust relationship. In year-on-year terms, larger sales categories like personal and recreational goods, and homewares and appliances, returned to growth, and department stores outpaced takeaway food. In June, department stores growth was faster than the same period 2020, a time when a previous VIC lockdown was beginning, with rapid online sales.

In month-on-month terms, growth accelerated for both metro and regional areas, with growth faster for the former. This was driven by metro VIC, NSW, and QLD. In year-on-year terms, metro growth is stronger across most states except TAS, where online sales from regional areas was slightly faster.

In month-on-month growth terms, domestic merchants recorded strong growth across most categories but particularly in homewares and appliances, department stores and grocery and liquor. Games and toys, and takeaway food were the only key categories where international recorded growth above domestic in month on month terms. In year on year terms, the key international category of games and toys was faster for domestic retailers.

For further details, please see the NAB Online Retail Sales Index June 2021