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E-commerce sees muted growth in June: NAB

Online retail sales saw more muted growth in June at only 0.2 per cent, according to NAB’s online retail sales index, though e-commerce is still 49.6 per cent up on the same period of last year. 

According to NAB chief economist Alan Oster, while online retail sales are usually quite volatile, Covid-19 has made them even more so.

Four of the eight categories recorded saw month-on-month sales improve, and growth was driven largely by domestic retailers, with international sales contracting once again.

Grocery and liquor, media, homewares and appliances and recreational goods all saw sales growth, while games and toys, department stores, fashion and games takeaway food all saw decreases.

“We estimate that in the 12 months to June, Australians spent $35.69 billion on online retail, a level that is around 10.7 per cent of the total retail trade estimate, and about 23.1 per cent higher than the 12 months to June 2019,” NAB said. 

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, online retail made up 9.7 per cent of total retail sales in June 2020, compared to 6.1 per cent in June 2019. 

“If there’s a silver lining to the otherwise tough trading conditions this year, it is the consistent growth in online trading which we expect to shift from 10 per cent to 20 per cent over the coming two years,” said Paul Zahra, chief executive of the Australian Retailers’ Association.  

“Omnichannel retail operations are a critical growth tool for retailers and during Covid restrictions provide an important hedge against the closure of physical stores.”

And while Zahra said it is like for July and August’s sales figures to be down, due to the impact of Victoria’s worsening condition, online is likely to continue to improve. 

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