State-imposed lockdowns have led to a surge in online shopping, with figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showing $3.7 billion was spent online.

This marks the highest level recorded for a single month and an increase of $603 million or 19.3 per cent compared to June.

Online food sales increased 12.8 per cent in July compared to the previous month, while non-food online sales increased 21.9 per cent in the same period.

Paul Zahra, CEO, Australian Retailers Association (ARA), said the lockdowns have accelerated trends already occurring in the retail industry with many more customers choosing to shop digitally from the convenience of their homes.

Unfortunately, it is also contributing to the supply chain disruptions and delays some customers are currently experiencing.

“It’s no surprise to see a surge in online sales with so many people subject to stay-at-home orders in July as lockdowns began to take hold,” Zahra said.

“Unfortunately, this increased demand is contributing to the increased stress our supply chains are already under, which has been an ongoing issue for Australian retailers throughout the pandemic. There are several factors that are compounding the problem as the busy Christmas shopping season approaches.

“The capping of incoming international flights has put significant pressure on shipping, and we are seeing container costs escalating up to four times their usual rate. Retailers are having to order stock much earlier than they normally would, with most larger retailers building up healthy inventory levels to ensure that they can satisfy their customers. 

“The key message for consumers in all of this is to be prepared. Give plenty of time for your items to be delivered and it’s also an important reminder not to leave your Christmas shopping till the last minute. These issues are likely to be with us for the months ahead, so consumers should consider shopping early to avoid disappointment.”

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