Preliminary retail turnover results from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) have shown strong growth for online retail in February 2021.
According to the ABS, retail turnover fell 1.1 percent in February but rose 8.7 percent when compared to February 2020.
“Restrictions due to COVID-19 in Victoria, and parts of Western Australia, drove the February fall. Victoria fell four percent, and Western Australia fell six percent, as trade was restricted for five days in each state,” said Ben James, the Director of Quarterly Wide Economy Surveys.
“The falls were partially offset by rises in New South Wales and Queensland. Both these states had seen trade impacted by COVID-19 in January, and in February saw rises in industries such as clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing and department stores.”
In a separate report from eStore Logistics, online retail has shown a significant uplift YoY, with Victoria and Western Australia leading the growth.
However, total retail sales have slipped through the month, despite the strong online growth.
This is not surprising, said Leigh Williams, the Managing Director of eStore Logistics.
“The ABS retail figures show that growth in the retail sector is faltering but as our data shows, this is just not the case for e-commerce,” said Williams.
“We’re not surprised to see this. From the get-go, we’ve said that the transition to e-commerce is here to stay and I stand by that. The pandemic has accelerated digital literacy and in turn, encouraged more people to shop online frequently.”
WA and Victoria reported the strongest online growth in February | via Unsplash
The leading categories for online retail sales include home and renovation categories, which led the pack with 145 percent YoY growth.
Similarly, fashion and accessories experienced an uplift in sales, which is significant following a temporary slump over the Christmas period. The categories increased by 59 percent YoY in February and 61 percent YoY in January.
“This growth will continue as more consumers seek out convenience when it comes to making everyday purchases,” shared Williams.
“We’ve noticed that as online retailers are improving their logistics and fulfilment capabilities, and products are getting out the door faster and more efficiently. This is creating a positive customer experience and as a result, encouraging people to shop online repeatedly.”
Across Australia, every state recorded growth in February, but there were to clear winners in Western Australia and Victoria. These states reported online growth of 78 percent and 71 percent, respectively.
Tasmania recorded an increase of 49 percent, with NSW sitting behind slightly at 47 percent. ACT recorded 46 percent growth, and South Australia and Queensland reported an increase of 42 percent and 41 percent, respectively.
In January 2021, Australian retail turnover rose by 10.7 percent.
“The preliminary retail figures for February reveal a clear drop in nationwide sales for the month. This underlines the point that the sector and the economy more broadly are still in for a challenging period ahead,” explained Dominique Lamb, the CEO of the National Retail Association.
“Both JobKeeper and the Coronavirus Supplement are due to expire in less than two weeks and this will likely see a further decline in discretionary spending. The hard lockdowns in Western Australia and Victoria also no doubt played a part in the February fall, even brief economic shutdowns can have a substantial impact on sales.
“Retailers across the country remain braced for a challenging period ahead and we are still a long way from being out of the woods,” she said. “…we urge consumers to continue supporting their local retailers and not be afraid to spend cash that otherwise would have been going on things such as overseas holidays or other discretionary purchases still unavailable.”
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