As Australians spent 2021 adapting to another year of lockdowns, Similarweb’s Digital 100 Insight reports reveals how consumer behaviours and trends evolved during the second year of the pandemic.

The Digital 100 is an annual report analysing the web traffic of Australia’s fastest growing websites across the five fastest growing categories.

Similarweb vice president for Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia, Emmanuel Heymann said the data paints a picture of Australia moving away from the stopgap measures of 2020 to a more permanent arrangement of living with the pandemic.

“While 2020 saw a lot of Australians sit and wait for the pandemic to pass, 2021 was the year we accepted the uncertainty and got on with our lives,” he said.

“People booked local holidays, improved their financial literacy, and took the plunge with investments – particularly in the realm of cryptocurrencies. It’s clear that for many Australians, digital is now the default and we’re turning to digital channels for almost every aspect of our day-to-day lives.”

Crypto mania takes hold

Cryptocurrency’s grip over Australia was reflected in web searches over the period, with 14 of the 20 fastest growing websites in the financial services sector related to cryptocurrency. Overall, searches to financial services sites rose by392%.

The three fastest growing sites were all cryptocurrency exchange websites that allows users to buy, sell, and store currencies like bitcoin, Ethereum, and dogecoin.

Australians also sought to improve their wealth during 2021 through online investment platforms. grew by 427%, wealth management site rose by 314%, and online investment platform saw 267% increase in traffic throughout the year. 

“The meteoric rise in the value of cryptocurrencies throughout 2021 clearly inspired Australians to dive head-first into digital currencies for fear of missing out. With the recent volatility in crypto values, it’s comforting to see there was some diversity in where Australians were looking to invest,” Heymann said.

Death of the office high heel?

During the 2021 lockdowns many Australians refreshed their wardrobes by shopping online for fashion and footwear. Similarweb’s analysis found a 400% year-on-year growth in the fashion and apparel sector over the period, making it the fastest growing category.

Leading the pack was at 1,980%, a brand that sells comfortable work shoes for women. This preference was also reflected in the growth of (+450%), which sells collectible sports sneakers, and up-market ugg boot provider (+263%).

Over 2021 Australians also turned to mass-produced, low-cost fast fashion brands with unprecedented fervour., which focuses on discounted women’s clothing for younger shoppers, grew by 409%, with 68% of its site mobile traffic coming from social media sites. Likewise, fast fashion brand grew by 394%.

“In 2020 we saw comfort win the fashion stakes with athleisure sites growing the fastest as many Australians worked exclusively from home – in 2021 we’ve seen functionality beat fashion in formal footwear. Whether working from home or in the office, consumers have shown comfort is front of mind,” Heymann said.

The rise of hemp

Health and beauty searches grew by 70% year-on-year, with a strong preference for Asian brands., known for Asian fashion and beauty products, was the fastest growing website in the category for the second year in a row (214%), while Korean health and beauty site grew by 68% year-on-year, and Japanese beauty brand shiseido.comsaw a 56% increase.

Consumers also paid heed to advice from the scientific community regarding the benefits of cannabidiol (CBD). Aussie brand uses hemp as a key ingredient in its beauty products, landed the number three spot with 148% more traffic than 2020.

“For the second year in a row, K-and-J Beauty sites have continued their impressive growth as consumers shift to more natural beauty regimes. The emergence of CBD-based skin care underscores this trend and shows organic beauty products are only increasing in popularity,” Heymann said.