Covid-19 brought a huge increase in online shopping. Many consumers became online shoppers for the first time. It seems they will continue to rely on ecommerce for a wide variety of items. Many of these new online shoppers are over 60 years old. Some hesitate to return to personal shopping. The results for the second quarter of 2021 show that online shopping is holding a large part of its profits despite the reopening of brick and mortar stores.
E-commerce accounted for 11% of total retail sales in the U.S. prior to the pandemic, according to the Mastercard Economics Institute. At its peak in 2020, online sales soared 22%. In mid-2021 it will be 17%. In Europe, the comparative figures are 8%, 12% and 9%. The United Kingdom had the highest scores in Europe at 22%, 31% and 24%, respectively.
Consumers have prioritized essentials over non-essential items, with online food and detergent sales leading the way in the first quarter of 2021. Health and wellness items also saw an increase.
Leading ecommerce sites saw year-over-year revenue growth in the first quarter of 2021, with Amazon hitting 71%, Walmart.com 31%, Target 20%, and eBay 19%.
Before the pandemic, research firm eMarketer calculated that U.S. consumers would spend $ 675 billion online in 2020, up 13.2% year over year. However, the pandemic resulted in a significant spike in retail ecommerce sales to $ 799 billion in 2020, up 34% from 2019. Non-e-commerce fell 0.2% to $ 12 billion.
eMarketer now predicts that U.S. retail sales will grow 13.7% to $ 909 billion in 2021, which is 15.5% of the $ 5.9 trillion of total retail sales in 2021.
Total e-commerce sales for 2021 will be more than $ 147 billion higher than predicted by eMarketer before the pandemic. Additionally, eMarketer predicts ecommerce sales will exceed $ 1 trillion in 2022, largely because consumers won’t return to pre-pandemic shopping habits. Before the pandemic, eMarketer didn’t expect e-commerce to hit this milestone before 2024.
- Stationary shopping will slowly recover. According to the analysis company Placer.ai, pedestrian traffic in 52 class A shopping centers was only 18.7 percent lower in April 2021 than in April 2019. However, the shopping centers will continue to struggle with vacancies.
- Many stationary non-grocery stores that introduced roadside collection at the height of the pandemic continue to offer this service, with some consumers who use this method still offering discounts. The option of shopping online and collecting in-store will also remain popular with consumers.
- Analysts believe that as the world opens up, consumers will be more likely to spend on services such as travel, movies, and live entertainment than on physical goods.
- Online grocery shopping will continue to grow. Before Covid-19, about 7% of grocery purchases in the U.S. were online, according to the Mastercard Economics Institute, which is forecast to account for about 9% of total online grocery sales in 2021. In this case, the food industry will keep 70 to 80% of the online growth during the height of the pandemic. Kroger and Walmart plan to increase their reliance on automation to meet the surge in online grocery orders.
- Despite the challenges in the supply chain, many online sellers delivered items within two days during the pandemic. Consumer expectations have grown. A recent survey of US consumers by Jungle Scout found that 68 percent of respondents now expect delivery within three days.
- Online and omnichannel companies are strengthening their fulfillment capabilities. Start-up providers emerge who streamline order processing and fulfillment. Venture capital firms strive to fund them.