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Click, click, ka-ching! The stratospheric growth of online shopping

It may come as no surprise but thanks to COVID-19, eCommerce and online shopping has exploded. The size of this explosion, however, is making many businesses sit up and take notice. Released in March this year, AusPost’s annual Inside Australian Online Shopping: eCommerce Industry Report highlighted just how huge the take up online shopping has actually been.

In 2020, more Australians shopped online than ever before. Around 80% of Australian households – that’s almost nine million households! – purchased online at some point during the year. Throughout 2020, an average of around 1 million additional households every month were going online to shop when compared to 2019. Online shopping for the 12 months to 31st December 2020 saw growth over 57% taking just over 8 months to eclipse 12 months’ worth of growth from 2019.

The value of purchases were equally as impressive. Australians spent $50.46 billion online during the year of 2020, up from $32.1 billion in 2019 and accounting for 16.3% of Australia’s entire retail spend. That’s like each of the above 9 million households spending over $5600 on online purchases in a year.

While Australians clicked their way to retail therapy, the trend towards buying local to support local businesses during hardships like bushfires, droughts and COVID-19 is just as prominent online as it is ‘IRL’. The AusPost report identified, “a noticeable uptake in social media campaigns urging Australians to shop in local communities.” Established or supported by governments, environmental advocates and celebrities or payment platforms. These campaigns often were tied into microsites or landing pages that featured and curated local businesses.

#BuyFromTheBush (Grace Brennan)

#SpendWithThem (Turia Pitt)

#BuyRegional (NSW Govt)

#ClickForVic (VIC Govt)

#ShopSmall (AMEX)

Reports show these campaigns are either reflecting or influencing shoppers attitudes with 57% of Australian online shoppers wanting to support local businesses. This doesn’t seem to be unique to Australia. A global survey from the IPC found 67% of participants agree that, “In future, I will buy more online from e-retailers based in my country.”

As with a lot of COVID-19 behaviour change, questions are raised as to whether the growth in online shopping is but a passing trend that will settle back post-COVID-19 with further normalisation of our lives. The AusPost report, however, suggests that this behaviour is here to stay. During 2020, “People shopped more online as the year progressed… indicating that shoppers are becoming more comfortable with using eCommerce for their day-to-day shopping needs.”

In the ABS Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, a third of respondents indicated they prefer to shop online now more than they did before the pandemic – even higher in states with greater case numbers (NSW and VIC). So, while Australian online shoppers still do “expect their online shopping frequency to decrease by about half as the health crisis abates,” according to the AusPost report, “this is still 28% higher than pre-COVID-19 levels.”

It looks like the stratospheric growth of online shopping is most definitely here to stay.

dentsu’s Commerce team can help guide any brand through challenges and opportunities that the growth of eCommerce presents. Speak to your dentsu Agency to help put you in touch with the dentsu Commerce team for more information.

Raph Krell


AusPost (2021) Inside Australian Online Shopping: eCommerce Industry Report.

ABS Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey

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