What Aussie Online Shoppers Did in 2020

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By Published On: April 1, 20210 Comments

Experts predicted that e-commerce would contribute 12-13 percent of total retail spend in 2020. In reality, online made up 16.3 percent of retail spend, fuelled by the pandemic and necessity of e-commerce.

Nine million Australian households shopped online in 2020. In a new report from Australia Post, e-commerce has skyrocketed in popularity across Aussie consumers over the last 12 months.

Surprising? No. It’s commonly understood that online retail has experienced unprecedented growth as a result of the pandemic, and the new report further solidifies it.

The report has found that 16.3 percent of total retail was spent online in 2020, with retail spend up 9.7 percent YoY. Four in five households use online as a channel throughout the year, resulting in a permanent shift in behaviour towards e-commerce.

“The events of 2020 gave rise to a sudden and permanent shift in buyer behaviour,” explained Ben Franzi, the General Manager of Parcel and Express Services at Australia Post. “Shoppers’ habits have changed and while they are more engaged than ever, they are also more comfortable buying from a broader cross-section of retailers and categories.”

Online shopping reached new heights in 2020 | via Unsplash

The Non-Stop Record-Breaking Year


From April last year, the country-wide lockdown was in full swing. Reports indicate that online shopping was up 135 percent YoY across all categories from Easter Sunday. In particular, there was standout growth for home and garden categories (up 177 percent) and variety stores (up 188 percent).

In fact, the Easter holidays in 2020 saw online purchases increase 6.8 percent compared to the previous online shopping period, which included Cyber Weekend and the pre-Christmas rush.


However, these records were once again broken by August, when online purchases further increased by 5.4 percent. According to Australia Post, these sales were driven by Afterpay Day and Click Frenzy Sports, which drove the largest single week in e-commerce sales for the year at the time.


It may be no surprise to some, but November was another month that smashed records for e-commerce. A whopping 5.5 million households shopped online this month. The AusPost report found that online sales rose by 55.6 percent, topping August’s record by seven percent. In fact, Australia recorded the largest week in e-commerce history in November. Online purchases increased 48 percent YoY in the week starting November 23rd – this number was smashed again the following week, growing by a further 42 percent YoY.

via Australia Post

The Local Push

Aussies were big supporters of local retailers in 2020. Following a particularly awful bushfire season and the pandemic, Aussie businesses suffered greatly over the year. The report has indicated that 57 percent of Aussie online shoppers want to support local businesses, with the launch of many Government-backed initiatives, including Buy from the Bush, Click for Vic and Buy Aussie Now.

What Does the Future Hold?

Based on the last 12 months, there is no doubt that e-commerce will remain above pre-CPIVD levels. In 2020, 1.36 million Australian households shopped online for the first time. Furthermore, according to the ABS Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, a third of respondents said they preferred shopping online now more than they did pre-COVID.

In fact, the report has found that shoppers expect their online purchase frequency to remain 28 percent higher than pre-pandemic levels. The future looks bright for e-commerce, but will it remain at lockdown levels as we leave the pandemic behind? Only time will tell.

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