Online spending dipped a little in December, according to the NAB online retail sales index.

It was down to 227 points compared with 241 points previously. This was a seasonal move, with November being the peak month for online retail sales. The growth rate for online sales eased with index increasing by +23 per cent year-on-year. While it was still robust it was below the strong growth rates experienced in October and November 2012 at +26 per cent and +27 per cent respectively.

According to the NAB index, the dip was driven by the decline in the average transaction size for all online purchases, down to $41 from $42 previously. This is indicative of a low inflation environment.

However, the growth rate for online sales continued to outperform the traditional bricks and mortar sector. In November, traditional sales increased by +3.3 per cent year-on-year.

As a result, in 2012 Australia’s online retail spending was $12.8 billion. This makes up approximately 5.8 per cent of Australia’s traditional bricks and mortar retail sector for the twelve months to November 2012.

The Index also showed 44 per cent of the sales occurred in Sector 1 (Auctions, Department Stores & Fashion) despite the fact that spending in this sector along with sector 4 (Food & Beverages) was below the trend for the year to October 2012. In contrast, spending in Sectors 2 (Household goods & Electronics) and 3 (Toys, Games & Hobbies, Music, Books, Movies) was slightly above the trend level.

Another interesting observation was that there was a significant increase in transactions on Christmas Day in Sectors 3 – otherwise the weakest day in the month. A majority of these purchases were primarily eBooks and digital music downloads that were given as Christmas gifts.