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State of the Nation’s $24billion online retail trade: Internet shopping becomes the new Australian norm

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2012 - March 2013, n = 6468

The latest State of the Nation Report from Roy Morgan Research includes a special supplement examining internet purchasing trends—and reveals that Australians’ ever-increasing penchant for online shopping has reached a critical tipping point.    

After over a decade of consistent year-on-year growth, internet shopping finally reached mainstream status in the first quarter of 2013: for the first time, Australians who don’t buy something online in an average three month period are in the minority.

Australians (aged 14+) spent $24.3billion online in the 12 months to March 2013, an increase of 11.9% from a year ago, the latest consumer data from Roy Morgan Research shows.  Total retail sales, however, rose only 3.4% in the same period to $258.4b, according to ABS data.

The average internet shopper spends $285 online per four week period, with Travel, Entertainment & Leisure, Electronics, Fashion and Food & Beverages the Top 5 categories by expenditure.

As more and more products, brands and services become available to buy with the click of a mouse button (or tap on a screen), shoppers who bought online in the last three months are increasingly less likely to go to an actual store: 23% of online shoppers go to stores less often now, compared to 10% in 2003.

By conducting over 50,000 interviews a year Roy Morgan Research has long examined how digital technologies are affecting consumers’ habits, attitudes and behaviours.  

As always, this State of the Nation Report (No. 15) also depicts the larger trends across Australian society, technology, the environment, politics and the economy.

Michele Levine, Chief Executive Officer, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Annual online sales now total over $24billion, with year-on-year percentage growth still in the double digits.

“The internet continues to transform Australians’ shopping habits: more people shop online; they spend more; they buy products across more categories; and they visit stores less often.

“But despite the significant growth, security and trust are still unresolved issues for online retailing. 56% of all Australians do not feel comfortable giving their credit card details online, and even among those who have bought online in an average three month period, nearly two thirds say they only buy from retailers they know and one fifth only buy from Australian online retailers.

“Within just a few years, smartphones have added another layer of complexity to the scene. While over half of Australians now own a smartphone, less than 7% of them bought online using the phone in the last four weeks—nevertheless, this is double the proportion a year ago.

“Smartphones may instead prove to be a way for traditional retailers to encourage tech-savvy consumers back into their stores. Imagine the shopping centre’s app that directs visitors to the store and the store’s app that lists what’s in stock and provides exclusive offers. This is coming—and soon.”  

Click here to purchase the State of the Nation Report (No. 15) with a Spotlight on Online Shopping.

For comments or further detail, please contact:

Michele Levine

Chief Executive Officer

Telephone: (03) 9224 5215

Mobile: 0411 129 093

About Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices in each state of Australia, as well as in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan Research has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

In Australia, Roy Morgan Research is considered to be the authoritative source of information on financial behaviour, readership, voting intentions and consumer confidence. Roy Morgan Research is a specialist in recontact customised surveys which provide invaluable and effective qualitative and quantitative information regarding customers and target markets.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%