Australia's online retail sales improve 0.7 percent year on year in November

Australians spent AU$18.1 billion on online retailing in the 12 months to November 2015, with the highest growth seen in electronic games and toys.

The latest online sales index from the National Australia Bank (NAB) showed that there was a slight improvement in online sales during November 2015.

In November, the online retail sales index grew by 0.7 percent, an improvement on the -0.6 percent that was recorded in October. In dollar terms, this was equivalent to AU$18.1 billion spent on online retail in the 12 months to November 2015.

According to NAB, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed that the comparable growth of traditional retailers, excluding cafes and restaurants, was 0.7 percent higher in October than September, and 4.5 percent higher than a year ago. Despite this, the growth in online retail was still more than double traditional retail sales, at 11.4 percent over the year.

But if the online sales index was examined in seasonally adjusted terms, online retail sales was fairly flat but still higher in November, which NAB said indicates that sales are still growing.

From a category standpoint, NAB said all sectors except daily deals had higher sales than November 2014. In year-on-year terms, growth was highest in electronic games and toys, at 36.1 percent.

"This category still represents a relatively small share of spend, at around 2.9 percent, and is the most volatile category series given sales associated with the timing of electronic game releases," NAB warned.

Media was another category that accelerated, growing by 23.2 percent year on year. NAB said that due to the entry of several high-profile subscription media services in the Australian market over the last nine months, the bank included these services in the media category of the index.

Meanwhile, fashion increased by 14.1 percent year on year, an improvement from the 10.6 percent year on year recorded in October. There was a rebound in growth for homewares and appliances, at 11.1 percent year on year, and department and variety stores experienced growth of 8.3 percent year on year.

On the other end of the spectrum, NAB recorded grocery and liquor as having the second-slowest category, growing by only 7.1 percent year on year, and personal and recreation virtually remained unchanged, at 9.3 percent year on year.

The rising pressure in Australia's retail industry took its toll on Dick Smith Holdings, which collapsed into voluntary administration on Tuesday after failing to secure a funds injection from its banks. The company blamed its financial woes on worse-than-expected sales and cash generation in December, continuing the weak trend from previous months.

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