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Online retail slows in December after blockbuster November

While the meteoric growth of e-commerce during the pandemic has continued unabated for months, December saw the ascent slow, with sales in the final month of 2020 down 7.1 per cent compared to November.

When compared to the year prior, however, online sales are still 33.8 per cent ahead according to NAB’s monthly online sales index.

“[The] rate of growth has slowed from the rapid growth between April and November (50-60 per cent), to around the rate last recorded in March,” said NAB chief economist Alan Oster.

“It is likely that a few factors contributed to the sales volatility of the past few months. October monthly online sales contracted relative to September, as lockdowns ended and sales growth returned to instore.

“The rebound in November appears to be driven by the sales events [Black Friday and Cyber Monday], with particularly strong growth for those in regional areas.”

A dip in homewares and appliances sales online led to the result, though compared to a year ago this sector is still up by 23.2 per cent. The food category saw a spike, due to Aussies stocking up in anticipation of the end-of-year holidays, while alcohol saw a less uniform result – up in some states and down in others.

Tasmania faired the worst for online sales during the month, Oster said, while New South Wales contracted the least. Victoria has now recorded a fall in online sales for the past three months, since physical retail reopened, but on year-on-year metrics the state has seen the biggest gains online overall.

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