31 Mar 2014

Internet sales surge continues

7:10 pm on 31 March 2014

International online sales continue to gain momentum, with more people choosing to buy clothing and footwear overseas, but domestic sales have tapered off.

The Bank of New Zealand's online retail sales index for domestic purchases for February grew 6 percent compared with the same month last year - but that was down from the 15 percent growth rate in January.

On a three-month basis, domestic sales rose 10 percent in the three months to February, the same three-monthly increase recorded in January.

Online purchases from overseas merchants grew by 21 percent last month, and on a three-month basis grew 24 per cent, the same rate as in the three months to January.

BNZ director of research Gary Baker said offshore online retailers were powering ahead, and the growth rates across categories were mixed.

"They've been growing at over 20 percent annually, and they continued to do that in February," Mr Baker said.

"But in terms of domestic retailers, our sales growth tapered off a bit. So we were going very strong in December and January in terms of locals buying from local merchants but in February, we tailed off and we were only about 6 percent higher than February last year."

That could be the result of a strong December and January, with sales in those months up 10-15 percent on the previous year, meaning people did not buy so much in February, Mr Baker said.

"The thing is that monthly figures can bounce around all over the place and be quite volatile, so we wouldn't read too much into it and wouldn't be surprised to see it recover next month," he said.