November 27, 2023

NAB Online Retail Sales Index: October 2023

Online retail sales grew strongly in October, following on from a rebound in September.

  • On a month-on-month, seasonally adjusted basis, growth accelerated in October (3.3%), following on from a significantly revised September estimate (0.7%, was 2.9%).
  • In year-on-year terms, growth accelerated again in October (9.6% y/y), albeit on a downward revision to the September estimate.
  • Broad-based growth in October by category, with the exception of media, which contracted after rapid growth a month prior. Growth was led by personal and recreational goods, along with a return to growth for fashion, and grocery and liquor. All other categories grew above the overall except for homewares and appliances, and games and toys. Personal and recreational goods also led in year-on-year terms.
  • Growth recorded for all states this month, with QLD slower after rapid growth the month prior. TAS recorded rapid growth this month, after a contraction a month prior. This was the case for most categories, especially homewares and appliances, with fashion, and media the exceptions. In year-on-year terms, all states recorded growth, with WA and SA leading.
  • Metro areas outpaced regional areas this month. In year-on-year terms, while metro areas recorded stronger growth, the two have somewhat converged. A year prior, online sales for metro areas were experiencing a stronger post lockdown slump, relative to regional areas. So, with the two converging more recently indicates stronger monthly performance in metro areas over the past couple of months.
  • Both domestic and international retailers recorded growth in the month, with the former performing better. In year-on-year terms, growth for international was much slower than the headline.
  • NAB estimates that in the 12 months to October, Australians spent $54.36 billion on online retail, a level that is around 12.8% of the total retail trade estimate (September 2023, Series 8501, Australian Bureau of Statistics), and a return to growth (1.3%) relative to the 12 months to October 2022.

NAB Chief Economist, Alan Oster commented:

We observed strong growth in October, following on from a rebound in September. As mentioned in the above summary, our growth estimate for September was revised down significantly, with a particularly strong revision to our estimate for international retailers. The growth pattern of the online series is somewhat at odds with our broader measure of retail spending. For that series, growth for retail was revised up in September and contracted in October.

There was broad-based growth in online retail sales in October, observed at both the state and category level. Fashion, which had seen four consecutive monthly declines, recorded the second highest growth rate in October.  Media was the only category to record a monthly contraction, and slow in year-on-year terms, but this is after a mid-year period of stronger than average growth.

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