Australians continue to spend big online with National Australia Bank’s (NAB) latest Online Retail Sales Index showing yet another increase.

Australians spent a total of $13.5 billion in the year to April 2013, up from $11.2 billion from the same period last year. Online sales were equivalent to 6 per cent of traditional retailing spending for the year to March 2013, up from 5.2 per cent for the same time last year.

The rate of online spending has also strengthened, growing at 23 per cent year-on-year compared to 12 per cent year-on-year in March.

NAB chief economist Alan Oster said online retail sales have continued to grow at a vastly stronger rate than the traditional bricks & mortar retail sector.

“We’ve seen stronger growth rates over the last year in areas like Fashion, Daily Deals, Media and Games & Toys. But these faster growing sectors are comparatively small when compared with the larger sectors in the online space – areas like Department stores (36 per cent) and homewares and appliances (18 per cent),” he said.

The Index also found Australia’s online spending continues to be dominated by those aged 35 to 44, at around a quarter of all purchases, while those aged 25 to 34 and 45 to 54 each spending around 20 per cent of the total. The lowest share of spending is among those aged 25 and under and those aged over 65, with these age groups lagging significantly on a per capita basis.

The strongest spending levels remain in ACT and NT followed by WA. In contrast SA, Vic and Qld continue to lag with these states well below average. Interestingly, since the start of the year there has been less distinction between the rate of growth for WA and the national average – with WA falling in line with the national average.

NAB’s retail sector head, Tiernan White, said the value of online sales continues to increase.

“We have seen strong growth in online spending over the past 12 months as online sales becomes a larger proportion of retail turnover. While we’re seeing businesses take a multi-channel approach by developing an online presence alongside a traditional storefront, growth rates among businesses remain mixed,” he said.

“However encouragingly we have seen online sales grow by over $2 billion in the past year, as retailers become more sophisticated in how they engage with their customers”.  

A number of enhancements were made to the Index this quarter including doubling the number of sub-categories from four to eight, and age groups from five to six.