Food and beverage was the fastest growing category in the top 10 online retail categories and saw a huge proportional increase in online shoppers in 2014, according to the latest data from Roy Morgan Research, which may offer opportunities for grocery and convenience retailers.

In 2011, 568,000 Australians bought one or more products from the food and beverage category in an average four weeks, that figure has almost tripled to 1,586,000 in 2014.

Roy Morgan revealed that online shopping continued its upward trajectory last year, with 7,630,000 Australians aged 14+ (almost 40% of the population) buying one or more products via the internet in an average four weeks. This was a sizeable increase on 2011, when 5,704,000 people made online purchases per average four weeks.

Food and Beverage ranked fourth after Entertainment & Leisure, Reading Materials, and Fashion in Roy Morgan’s 10 most popular online shopping product categories in 2014 (Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January 2014-December 2014 (n=15,944).

General manager Consumer Products Roy Morgan Research, Geoffrey Smith said that the fastest growing online retail category over the last four years was Food and Beverages, a category spanning alcohol, groceries and fast food.

“Buying alcohol online is becoming increasingly popular. Last year, 577,000 Aussie adults bought alcohol over the internet in any given four weeks — more than a third of the total people who purchased from the Food and Alcohol category,” he said.

And Australians spent a record $16.6 billion online in the year to January 2015, up 9% year-on-year according to National Australia Bank’s Online Retail Sales Index released in March.

Domestic sales continue to dominate the Index, with 74.8% of total online spending controlled by domestic retailers as of January 2015.

While department and variety stores dominated the online retail sector, having 33% of total online spending, groceries and liquor (at 15%) had the third largest share and posted a 24% increase in annual spending growth, second to department and variety stores.

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