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November sees strong online turnover

Australian retail businesses saw record sales in November 2018, with turnover increasing 3.6 per cent year-over-year, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The growth can be attributed to the growing investment and importance of retail sales events Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Click Frenzy, as well as the beginning of the holiday retail period.

“While retail has certainly had busier years than 2018, the November figures bode well for Christmas sales and we anticipate even stronger figures for the month of December,” National Retail Association deputy chief executive Lindsay Carroll said.

“Retail turnover from online sales continues to increase at a high rate, and this can be attributed to the rise in popularity of events such as Click Frenzy and Cyber Monday, combined with the fact that buying online is a convenient option for many shoppers.”

Online retail contributed 6.6 per cent to total retail turnover for the period, compared to 5.9 per cent in October 2018. According to the ABS, this is the highest level recorded and continues the pattern of increasing online contributions to sales in November.

“Although online sales are increasing at a steady rate, we certainly don’t think it [is] the end of bricks and mortar retail,” Carroll said.

“Online turnover still only accounts for less than 9 per cent of total retail sales and many retailers offer an online channel that complements their physical store.”

The Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman, however, noted that while these figures are slightly less than they had predicted, the ARA remain confident that the industry will “show its stripes” when December trade figures are released.

“Based on what we have seen and heard from retailers and our members, we believe the overall Christmas trade will indicate secure growth, with many large retailers noticing growth in-store,” Zimmerman said.

The period saw strong growth in the supermarket sector, which grew 4.5 per cent year-on-year, and specialised food, which saw a 3.84 per cent increase.

“As expected, the specialised food and supermarket categories received a slight increase, with many shoppers across the nation preparing their tables for Christmas Day,” Zimmerman said.

“However, some of this increase must be attributed to a reduction in supply of fresh produce due to weather events, especially the ongoing drought, which has driven prices of fruits, vegetables and meat upwards.”

Compared to the previous year, the ACT saw the largest gain with a 5.52 per cent increase in sales, followed by Victoria (4.58 per cent) and Queensland (3.67 per cent).

Tasmania (3.01 per cent), New South Wales (1.92 per cent), South Australia (0.93 per cent) and Western Australia (0.3 per cent) all saw moderate increases, while the Northern Territory recorded a 1.76 per cent decline in total sales.

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