Following a weak level of spending in February, online sales growth rate in March was modest, according to the NAB Online Retail Sales Index.

It moved up to 209 points from 193 points in February. On a year-on-year rate it grew 15 per cent, slowing significantly. This was the second slowest recorded for the index, which was +14 per cent in May 2012. Since peaking in January at +27 per cent year-on-year, growth trends for online retail have been much weaker.

According to NAB, the slow growth rate was influenced by the lack of product launches in the electronics space.

“Online sales were boosted in both March 2011 and March 2012 by flagship tablet releases, which did not occur this year. When these effects are removed from our data growth rates remained at similar levels to those recorded in February,” the index said.

In the twelve months ending March 2013, Australian online retail purchases were $13.3 billion. This level is equivalent to around 6.0 per cent of Australia’s traditional bricks & mortar retail sector (excluding cafés, restaurants and takeaway food for a like-to-like comparison) for the year to February 2013.

The rate of growth for traditional bricks and mortar retail was also comparatively weak in February

2013 at just +0.9 per cent year-on-year on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, down from +4.3 per cent year-on-year in January. That said when seasonal factors are included, growth trends improved from + 3.1 per cent year-on-year to +4.4 per cent year-on-year.