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What’s in store for The Store? Fairfax readers spend big in the $2.6billion online retail clothing market

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, November 2015 to October 2016, sample n = 50,577 Australians 14+

After Coles and Woolworths turned shoppers into readers with the country’s two most-read magazines, now Fairfax aims to turn readers into shoppers with a recently launched online boutique. As media, retail and technology converge, Roy Morgan’s Single Source research captures all three aspects of consumer behaviour together, and finds that Fairfax’s readers claim a premium share of the online market— especially for the types of products sold at The Store.

As detailed in Roy Morgan’s latest State of the Nation report launched this week, Australia’s online shopping market is now worth an estimated $41.3billion per year. In the 12 months to September 2016, the Cross-Platform Audiences for Fairfax’s three leading mastheads were all more likely than average to shop online—and spent more when they did. The result is that Fairfax readers contribute far more than their fair share to the online shopping market:

  • 21% of Australians (aged 14+) read the Sydney Morning Herald in print and digital – but this audience contributes 33% of all money spent online.
  • 15% read The Age – but 20% of online shopping dollars come from them.
  • 7% read the Australian Financial Review – but their value to the online shopping market is almost double, at 13%

However over half of this total online shopping market is expenditure on intangible products like flights and accommodation, movie and concert tickets, music downloads, and fast food delivery. A more granular look within individual categories shows Fairfax reaches particularly high-value audiences when it comes to women’s and men’s clothing bought online.

Just over 6% of Australians buy women’s clothing online in an average four weeks, each spending $113 on average. This values the online womenswear market at $1.8billion a year. Readers of the Sydney Morning Herald or The Age are both more likely to buy women’s clothes online (7.4%), and spend more than average when they do: $119 and $127 respectively. Shopping for women’s clothes online is less popular among the Australian Financial Review’s (more male-heavy) audience (5.8%)—but those shoppers spend by far the most on average: $147.

Tallied up, the Sydney Morning Herald’s audience spends $481 million on women’s clothes online (27% of the market), ahead of $348 million by The Age’s readers (19% of the market), and $160 million by the Australian Financial Review’s (9%)—in each case a larger share than their actual reach.

Australians spend $800 million a year on menswear online—a billion dollars less than on womenswear—but in this market the Fairfax mastheads claim even greater shares. Compared with the average incidence (2.8%) and spend ($112), online menswear shopping is a fair bit more popular among Sydney Morning Herald readers (3.9% at $116 each, for $249 million in total), much more popular among The Age readers (4.9% at $138 for $254 million), and much much more popular (and costly) among Australian Financial Review readers (5.1% at $172 for $167 million—more than they spend on womenswear online!).

With its readers contributing a huge 21% of the market, the value of the Australian Financial Review to online menswear is almost three times bigger than its reach, and The Age’s value (32%) is more than double its reach—pipping the more widely read Sydney Morning Herald (31%).

Fairfax Readers’ Incidence, Average Spend and Share in Women’s and Men’s Online Shopping Markets

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, October 2015 – September 2016, sample n = 50,634 Australians 14+.

Michele Levine, CEO – Roy Morgan Research, says:

“As our latest State of the Nation report revealed, Australians now spend over $41billion a year over the internet. 76% of those dollars went to Australian online stores.

“Announcing the launch of The Store, Fairfax rightly described the venture as a ‘compelling opportunity’. Roy Morgan Readership shows that nearly 4.2 million people read the Sydney Morning Herald in an average week—and they already spend almost $750 million a year buying men’s and women’s clothing online. This is exactly the sort of large, engaged, high-value audience that Fairfax offers to its retail advertisers—so why not also leverage it to try to claim even a small slice of retail dollars on the side?   

“The State of the Nation also showed the Australian population becoming more security and safety conscious. Concerns surrounding crime and privacy have implications for retail, as shoppers consider which online and bricks-and-mortar retailers, which local and overseas brands, and which payment methods they can trust.

“As well as their existing audiences, media owners have a ready-made trustworthy brand. 65% of online shoppers say they only buy from online retailers they know. Trust is vital in online retail: trust that the products are shown and described accurately on the site or app, trust that payment is secure and privacy is maintained, and trust that the goods do actually turn up on the doorstep.

“Roy Morgan’s Single Source research is ideally placed to monitor the ongoing convergence of media, retail and technology. The latest data pinpoints many other publications—particularly some magazines in the Home and Garden category—that are in prime position to convert their existing brands and audiences into retail revenue.” 

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%