October 27, 2023

NAB Online Retail Sales Index: September 2023

There was a broad-based rebound in online retail sales in September

  • On a month-on-month, seasonally adjusted basis, growth rebounded in September (2.9%), following on from a revised August contraction (-1.1%, was -1.4%).
  • In year-on-year terms, growth accelerated again in September (11.0% y/y), but this is compared to a period of contraction the year prior, so some caution should be applied given base effects.
  • Broad-based growth in September by category, with the exception of fashion, which continued to contract, albeit at a slower rate than the month prior. The strong rebound in September was driven by the two large sales categories, department stores, and homewares and appliances, along with rapid growth from smaller sales categories media, takeaway, and games and toys. In year-on-year terms, all categories recorded growth.
  • Growth recorded for all states this month, except TAS, where a contraction in homewares and appliances, and personal and recreational goods outweighed growth for other categories. QLD recorded rapid growth this month after a mild contraction a month prior, with growth for all categories, and especially strong for homewares and appliances, media, and games and toys.  In year-on-year terms, all states except TAS recorded growth, with WA and NT leading.
  • Regional areas slightly outpaced metro areas this month. In year-on-year terms, metro areas recorded stronger growth, but this is a comparison made to a period a year prior where metro area growth was weaker than regional areas.
  • Both domestic and international retailers recorded growth in the month, with the former performing better. In year-on-year terms, growth for both was relatively on par with the headline.
  • NAB estimates that in the 12 months to September, Australians spent $54.17 billion on online retail, a level that is around 12.8% of the total retail trade estimate (August 2023, Series 8501, Australian Bureau of Statistics), and a slight contraction (-0.1%) relative to the 12 months to September 2022.

NAB Chief Economist, Alan Oster commented:

There was a broad-based rebound in online retail sales in September observed at both the state and category level. The growth for the largest sales category, homewares and appliances, was enough to lift year-on-year growth back to positive territory, which had been negative for over a year. For the broader online series, and other categories, the improvement in year-on-year growth has been underway since May.

As noted in August, for the broader series, the twelve-months-to growth rate, while negative for most of the year, has started to improve. This continued in September with a near-flat reading, indicating that the post-covid trough may be nearing its conclusion.

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