Online sales increase 26% year-on-year in February, NAB index reveals

A bloom in flower sales ahead of Valentine’s Day and more university students purchasing books before their first classes contributed to a 19% increase in online sales during February, according to the latest figures from NAB.

The sales come as the Australian Retailers Association yesterday repeated its demand for the Federal Government to reduce the GST import threshold, following the release of a report by the Low Value Parcel Processing Taskforce.

Online sales also increased 26% from February 2011, the latest Online Retail Sales Index shows, equating to about 5% of traditional bricks and mortar retail spending for the year ending January 2012.

The index itself rose to 168 points in February from 158.9 in January. NAB chief economist Alan Oster said in a statement the result was “particularly notable”, given the results in February 2010 and 2011 showed little to no growth when compared with the preceding month.

The index only recorded a 19% growth rate in the 12 months to January, while the sales represent growth of more than 15 times that of the traditional retail sector. The latest figures from the ABS show just 1.7% growth in January.

The figures also show online sales remain less seasonal than traditional retail, with steady growth since January 2010 compared to traditional retail sales.

The online index cooled in January in a traditional post-Christmas slowdown, but has recovered due in no small part to an increase in spending at online florists and online bookshops, according to the survey.

However, it also said the extra day in February due to the leap year may have contributed to the higher monthly growth.

Online retailing is still in the legal spotlight, with the Australian Retailers Association yesterday reiterating its proposal to reduce the GST threshold for imported goods.

The statement came after the Low Value Parcel Processing Taskforce released its interim report, suggesting a number of ways to streamline and simplify the parcel process.

“The ARA is calling for a zero dollar Low Value Import Threshold (LVIT) to be implemented in the interests of tax neutrality as soon as practicable and we look forward to continuing work with the Taskforce to achieve this in consultation with other industry bodies.”

The statement comes during a controversial time for online retailers. David Jones recently announced its intention to start a multi-million dollar process in order to create an “omni channel” presence.

SmartCompany has today published our annual list of the country’s top 20 online retailers.

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