Australians spent more than $50.46 billion online in 2020, a 57% increase from the previous year, with Victorians in lockdown leading the way by far.
That’s according to a report from Australia Post, which outlines some of the e-commerce trends seen in the topsy turvy year that was 2020, and highlights the suburbs where households spent the most online.
The top five postcodes for online retail last year were all in Metropolitan Melbourne, where COVID-19 lockdowns dragged on for the longest.
And while residents of Point Cook retained their title as top online spenders, e-commerce in the postcode increased almost 120%.
The report found that just shy of 9 million people — or 82% of Australian households — made an online purchase at some point in 2020.
About 1.3 million of those households were new to e-commerce, having not made a single purchase online in 2019.
Most of these households made their first online purchase in April 2020. More than half then went on to continue buying online relatively frequently, making purchases in at least three additional months between April and December.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first major uptick in online spending came in April, after strict lockdown measures came into effect at the end of March.
E-commerce spending in the seven days following Easter Sunday — which fell on 12 April in 2020 — was up 135%. Variety stores and home and garden retailers were particularly popular, with online sales up 188% and 177%, respectively.
And equally unsurprisingly, as Victoria entered its strict second lockdown in July 2020, the state well and truly took the lead in e-commerce spending.
By the end of July, online purchases in Victoria were 17% up on the previous April peak.
Where are the e-commerce hotspots?
Accordingly, of the suburbs spending the most online, six are in Victoria, including the top five, which all saw online shopping rates more than double last year, compared to 2020.
All five were also in Metropolitan Melbourne, which saw the strictest and longest-lasting lockdowns.
Point Cook, in Melbourne’s west, was the top suburb for online retail for the sixth year running, and saw an uptick in purchase volume of 119%.
Cranbourne came in second, and Hoppers Crossing was third. These suburbs saw year-on-year growth of 114.6% and 120.6%, respectively.
The fourth-most click happy suburb was Craigieburn, which also recorded an increase in activity of 137.2%.
And in fifth position was Doreen, which was also one of the biggest climbers. In 2019, Doreen came in 18th position in e-commerce sales. In 2020, activity increased by a massive 143.4%.
For each of the top five postcodes, participation in online shopping also increased by at least five percentage points, the report added, meaning those who weren’t shopping online already did so for the first time.
The top ten includes one postcode in Queensland — Toowoomba, in sixth position.
Top e-commerce spending spots in New South Wales include Liverpool, Rouse Hill and Gosford, which are seventh, eighth and tenth on the list respectively.
Ninth place is held by Ballarat, Victoria.
All of these saw online shopping activity increase by more than 55% in 2020, compared to the previous year. Both Rouse Hill and Ballarat saw an uptick of more than 74%.
E-commerce accounted for a total of 16.3% of total retail spending. In his introduction to the report, acting group chief executive at Australia Post Rodney Boys said that is a figure “we did not expect to see until about 2023”.
In November, a combination of online shopping sales and early Christmas shopping led to the biggest month in Australian e-commerce history.
However, not all of the focus has been on shopping from large or international organisations. In fact, between disruption in international supply chains and shifting consumer sentiment, the report also notes an acceleration of the ‘buy local’ trend.
That’s something that looks to be continuing into 2021, as ongoing lockdowns continue to batter small businesses.
NAB’s Consumer Sentiment Survey for Q2 2021, released last week, found that even as financial stress has increased, consumers are being more mindful of where they spend their money.
Generally, people are more inclined to by Australian-made goods, and to spend with local businesses, even if it means paying a premium.
Read the full Australia Post report here.