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COVID-19 Boosts Australia’s Online Retail Sales By 50.4%

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The NAB Online Retail Sales Index rose by 50.4% year-on-year (y-o-y) in May, following April’s record y-o-y growth of 58.5%. “While online retail sales growth is typically volatile month to month, the recent changes that COVID-19 has brought to the broader economy, and day-to-day life, has made it even more so. From our observations, the general trend for online retail is up,” said Alan Oster, Chief Economist at NAB.

Although month-on-month (m-o-m) sales contracted slightly by 1% in May, this did follow record m-o-m growth of 16.4% in April.

Now, the proportion of Australia’s retail sales that are made online roughly match those of international markets. “For example, the US census bureau quarterly ecommerce estimate for online retail is about 11.5% of total US retail sales, a figure not too dissimilar to our estimate for Australia,” said Oster.

However, in Australia this growth seems to be concentrated in our more populated areas, with the three most populous states representing over 80% of all online sales (which is slightly above their share of the population).

In the 12 months to May Australians spent $34.18 billion on online retail.

Source: NAB Online Retail Sales Index May 2020

According to the final retail trade figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, online sales contributed 10.1% to total retail turnover in May. Overall, retail turnover increased by a record 16.9% that month.

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