Online spending on local sites has strengthened in July and helped to boost the country’s total online retail sales compared to the previous corresponding period.

Spending on New Zealand sites rose 18 percent compared to the previous year – again driven by food and grocery categories in recent months.

New Zealand’s total online retail spending in July was 9 percent higher than a year ago. Excluding the food and liquor sectors, annual online spending was equivalent to 11.1 percent of retail sales, according to both Statistics New Zealand and Bank of New Zealand’s indices.

Spending growth at offshore sites fell slightly in July, with online spending down 3 percent on July last year.

Spending on entertainment media among international e-commerce companies grew strongly but was offset by broad-based softening across most other categories at offshore sites.

Gary Baker, director of institutional research at Bank of New Zealand, said annual online spending across the retail categories they cover is running at just over $4.6 billion, excluding GST.

“This is equivalent to 8 percent of total retail sales reported in Statistics NZ’s Retail Trade Series (RTS), comparing like-for-like categories,” Baker said.