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Online retail sales slow in April

Online sales in Australian retail slowed on a month on month basis by 3.8 per cent in April, after a less than stellar March, according to the National Australia Bank Online Retail Sales Index.

The result is consistent with a general slowdown in retail observed by NAB, while the result itself is positive on a year on year basis, up 1.7 per cent.

“This month, both online retail and broader cashless retail series indicated very weak retail conditions,” NAB chief economist Alan Oster said.

“While year-on-year growth in online sales has also slowed considerably in recent months, these comparisons are made to a period of elevated sales in 2018, with major new merchants to Australia, and also pre-GST exemption effects.”

While all categories suffered a contraction in sales during April, games and toys suffered least with only a 0.2 per cent reduction in sales, while takeaway food fell 8.6 per cent – the steepest drop.

International retailers outperformed domestic retailers on a monthly basis, with international retail enjoying a 0.7 per cent increase in sales, compared to the 4.4 per cent fall in domestic trading. However, NAB identifies a considerable weakness in international online sales on a year-on-year basis, most likely owing to the change in how GST is calculated and charged, which took effect in 2018.

“Tasmania, with about 2 per cent of online sales, was weakest in April after leading growth in March,” Oster said.

“New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland represent over three quarters of the online market in Australia by sales value. Of these larger sales states, Queensland was strongest over the year.”

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