Throughout last year Australians repeatedly defied the predictions of cautious analysts to embrace retail therapy with a vengeance both in-store and online. According to leading data tracker Euromonitor, Aussies spent $68.01 billion online with a record per capita spend of $1766 in 2022.

Online spending on skincare was a highlight with revenues rising 27.8 per cent last year, notes the market researcher. Colour cosmetics also did well to deliver 17.1 per cent growth as the country returned to getting out and about after Covid-19 restrictions. Online fragrance sales were also up 16.6 per cent.

But this year could be a mixed bag reveals the first Digital Economy Index from Airwallex, the Melbourne-based fin tech. E-commerce is powering along in some states, but dropping off in others.

NSW online spending is proving resilient and has jumped 12.94 per cent in turnover over last year, followed by Queensland with a revenue spike of 6.14 per cent.

But Victoria has seen online  turnover plummet 25 per cent and South Australia has dipped 13.6 per cent.

It’s not about accumulating “stuff” anymore, either. Australians have also embraced their love of travel with online booking turnover increasing 207 per cent, notes Airwallex. Many people are also upgrading their skillsets and demand for online education courses has soared.

Online businesses are holding up more strongly than other parts of the economy, but the data shows they aren’t immune from the economic headwinds the world is facing, added Amelia Hamer, Director of Strategy for Airwallex ANZ.

“The message from this data is if you’re going digital, you’re generally going strong. Especially compared to businesses that aren’t part of the digital economy where we’ve seen online business growth outpace the latest ABS data on turnover in almost every category, except retail trade or e-commerce.

“There’s an alarm bell for some businesses that rely on international purchases, with the Index highlighting they’ve dropped by 6 per cent since last year, but domestic online consumption has made up for it. Local businesses are increasingly becoming Australians’ first choice for online shopping.”

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