How the Coronavirus is Changing E-commerce


In the first six months of the year, consumers spent $347.26 billion online with U.S. retailers, up 30.1% from $266.84 billion for the same period in 2019, according to the latest Digital Commerce 360 analysis of U.S. Department of Commerce data. Comparatively, e-commerce sales during the first half of 2019 grew just 12.7% year over year.

The spike in e-commerce sales largely came from consumer spending habits in the second quarter, which was plagued by the height of the coronavirus pandemic that caused widespread store closures and stay-at-home orders. 

Year-over-year online sales growth slowed in July compared with June. Ecommerce sales were up 55% to $66.3 billion in July compared with July 2019, which is a slowdown from June 2020 when online sales were up 76% to $73.0 billion year over year.

Bankrupt retailers amid coronavirus pandemic

21 North American retailers filed for bankruptcy protection thus far in 2020. 17 of those retailers filed during the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. Lockdowns and store closures have drained revenue, pushing already-struggling companies like J.C. Penney Co. Inc., J. Crew Group Inc., and Neiman Marcus Group Inc. into bankruptcy.

Curbside pickup

Statewide lockdowns, store closures, and the fear of contracting the coronavirus have kept consumers from shopping in stores. As a result, many retailers launched curbside pickup as a way to get products to consumers safely.

While this omnichannel trend has been on the rise for the past couple of years, many store retailers launched curbside amid the pandemic.

As of August 2020, 43.7% of the 245 retailers with stores ranked in the Digital Commerce 360 Top 500 offer curbside pickup, a sharp increase from 6.9% at the end of 2019.

What’s more, large retailers that offered curbside pickup prior to the pandemic touted growth in consumers using the feature in Q2. Target Corp. said web orders fulfilled through curbside pickup grew 734% in its fiscal Q2 ended Aug. 1. Similarly, Home Depot had triple-digit growth in curbside delivery during its Q2.

Amazon’s traffic during COVID-19 continues to see increased traffic to its site even as statewide stay-at-home orders lift and stores reopen. In July, site traffic was up 28.1% compared with February 2020 and up 8.7% year over year, according to Digital Commerce 360’s analysis of traffic data from web measurement firm SimilarWeb.

It’s important to note that traffic is up year over year despite Amazon postponing its annual Prime Day sales event, which was held in July 2019, to the fall in 2020.

Amazon Marketplace

U.S. marketplace sellers sold 3.4 billion products in the last 12 months ended May 31—a time period that includes the start and height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the same period, Amazon’s marketplace sellers averaged $160,000 in annual sales, compared with $100,000 in the same period a year prior.

Since mid-March, marketplace sellers hit “record sales,” Amazon reports. While the company didn’t specify U.S. sales figures, it did say marketplace products account for more than 50% of all units sold on Amazon, and marketplace sales continue to outpace first-party sales.

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