The Online Retail Sales Index surged ahead of Christmas but year-on-year growth only edged higher to 27 per cent, according to National Australia Bank.

The NAB Online Retail Sales Index rose to 241 points in November compared with 209 points in October. In the twelve months to November 2012, Australians spent around $12.6 billion on online retail. This level is equivalent to 5.7 per cent of the scale of traditional bricks & mortar retail (excluding cafés, restaurants and takeaway food) for the year to October 2012.

However it is important to note that November is the peak month for online retail sales, with consumers allowing adequate time for delivery of their purchases prior to Christmas.

This seasonality is evident in the growth rate of the index, with online sales rising by +27 per cent in November, only marginally stronger than the growth rate recorded in October (+26 per cent). The rate of growth in November 2012 was stronger than the level a year earlier, with growth of +20 per cent recorded in November 2011.

“Growth in online sales has consistently outperformed that of the traditional bricks and mortar sector. In October, traditional sales increased by +2.6 per cent year-on-year (on a non-seasonally adjusted basis). When seasonal factors are included, growth rates for traditional retail edged higher, to +2.8 per cent,” NAB reported.

“In the two previous years, there has been a notable decline in online sales in December, due to the delivery time required prior to Christmas. As the online market matures, it will be interesting to observe whether consumers have greater confidence to make online purchases later in the month in 2012.”