Australian Bureau of Statistics Estimates Online Retail at $10.8 Billion

Preliminary results from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ first estimates of online retail sales show a large proportion disappearing offshore.

It’s a first for local online retail, as statistics released this week from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) refuel the discussion of low value import tax, revealing shoppers spent at least $6.23 billion in offshore purchases under the current $1,000 threshold.

These numbers, capturing the financial year for 2011-12, are the result of the first analysis the ABS has performed on local online retail sales – as opposed to the traditional analysis, which encompasses the entire retail industry.

The report puts the total online retail spend for the period at $10.8 billion, or 4.5 percent of total retail sales, which appears low by comparison to other estimates. A breakdown of that figure shows that an overwhelming majority goes to offshore retailers, rather than domestic online purchases ($4.6 billion).

The ABS also admits that its estimates of offshore purchases aren’t necessarily restricted to online sales, however prevailing wisdom would suggest the vast majority is derived from online.

By no means are these figures complete, however this initial snapshot lays the groundwork for much broader findings to come. The ABS says we can expect “complete results” in November.


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