Melburnians have pipped Sydneysiders as the most prolific online shoppers over Christmas period as Australians spent an estimated record total of $2.95 billion. That’s according to real-time data released by payments gateway, eWay, which has released data to mark the end of the traditional two-month holiday shopping period.

The data revealed that online sales from mid-November 2014 to mid-January 2015 were up more than 20 per cent on the 2013-14 season. Predictions for the general retail sector for the period were placed around three to four per cent.

eWAY serves more than 17,000 Australian online stores and processes one in every four dollars spent locally online. In December 2014 alone, Australians spent approximately $1.56 billion online. This is up from 1.53 billion in November, but down on October, when sales peaked for the year at $1.57 billion. Over the past few years year-on-year December sales growth has been slowing, though still growing, as online retail has become prevalent. This year bucked that trend with December sales growth picking back up to 22 per cent year-on-year, from a growth rate 17 per cent the year prior.

Unsurprisingly, sale volumes slowed down in the week before Christmas, when postage times likely put online Christmas shopping on hold. On Boxing Day however, Aussies spent $35.8 million online in one day, up 17.4 per cent on last year. Areas taking the most deliveries over the period were, in order, Melbourne and Sydney’s CBDs, Toowoomba, Surry Hills and Werribee. Suburbs in Canberra and Perth also featured higher than in other months of this year.

eWay chief executive, Matt Bullock, said Australia had recorded impressive year on year growth in the online sector this holiday period, though this is not surprising given the upward trajectory that we’ve seen in online retail throughout 2014.

“What we haven’t seen however is any huge spikes or surges in spending or transaction numbers in the holiday period — not what you’d expect with all the hype and advertising,” he said.

“It was very steady. eWAY recorded higher sales and transactions volumes in October than we did in December.”

Bullock put this down this down to consumers and online retailers becoming more savvy.

“Some more prolific online shoppers may be more likely to go in-store over Christmas, but with stores offering heavy discounts in the months leading up, shoppers are clearly no longer saving their spending until December,” he said.

“Online retailers were clever, offering their sales to customers over longer lead periods, or giving early access to Boxing Day discounts. They were a step ahead.

“Every year online retail gets bigger and bigger. The sector isn’t changing, it’s well and truly changed. Retailers now need to focus on continually optimising their online offering for consumers.”

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