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Online retail growth continues month-on-month slide

January is a difficult month even for online retailers, as the latest data from NAB shows.

According to the National Australia Bank’s monthly Online Retail Sales Index, e-commerce growth contracted to -0.5 per cent in January, a drop from the 0.5 per cent month-on-month growth recorded in December 2016. Compared to January 2016, however, online retail sales were up 11.7 per cent.

This translates to $21.83 billion being spent online in the past 12 months, representing 7.2 per cent of traditional bricks-and-mortar retail. While the overall growth rate of online retail continues to slow, it still outpaces the growth rate of bricks-and-mortar retail, which is expanding at 3.7 per cent annually.

NAB points to growth in two larger spend categories as driving e-commerce over the past year: sales of homewares and appliances grew at a year-on-year rate of 17.8 per cent in January vs 15.6 per cent in December, and sales of groceries and liquor grew at a year-on-year rate of 6.1 per cent year-on-year growth in January vs 3.3 per cent in December.

In addition, two smaller spend categories showed faster growth over the past year: sales personal and recreational roods grew at a year-on-year rate of 13.8 per cent in January vs 12.3 per cent in December, and department store sales grew at a year-on-year rate of 4.6 per cent in January  vs 1.4 per cent in December.

Sales growth in the media, fashion, food catering and daily deals categories slowed over the past 12 months.

The monthly index also reveals that small businesses drive about one-third of all online retail sales and are growing at a faster rate year-on-year (19.7 per cent) than corporate online retailers (11.7 per cent).

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