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Global ecommerce sales up 7% after pandemic spike

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

Following a massive 66% spike in daily online sales in May when most physical stores were shut and consumers in many locations were still under strict pandemic lockdowns, new data suggests ecommerce performance globally has levelled off, now averaging 7% higher online sales daily and 3% greater traffic than at the same time last year.

Among the lasting winners of the shift to ecommerce due to the pandemic is the Home & Garden vertical which was averaging daily sales 42% higher in early August compared with the early phase of the crisis in March, according to the research. Fashion & Accessories also remains buoyant, with sales 18% higher in August than at the onset of the crisis and 10% higher year-over-year (YoY). Beauty & Skincare, on the other hand, has suffered a big climbdown with sales down 20% compared with March.

The findings come from Nosto, the commerce experience platform. Its study, The State of Ecommerce Q3 2020 analysed the performance of 500 online retail brands in US, UK, France, DACH, Nordics, and Asia Pacific (APAC) across 6 key vertical sectors between March and August this year and in 2019.

Nosto’s data suggests that overall sales and traffic remained 7% and 3% higher year-over-year (YoY) in August, which is unlikely to be enough to make up for the drastic drop in brick and mortar sales throughout the continuing pandemic affected period.

Currently the overall ecommerce conversion rate across all sectors is sticking at around 6% higher YoY, which suggests that either shoppers are much more committed to making purchases when they visit online stores or that retailers are doing a better job at convincing them to buy.

At the same time, however, average order value (AOV) across ecommerce is trending at just below last year’s numbers (between 0 and -3% below 2019), most likely because people are being cautious and counting their pennies due to ongoing economic uncertainty.

Fashion & Accessories is seeing lasting growth but consumers are spending less per order

Fashion & Accessories ecommerce is seeing a lasting upside from the crisis with daily visits up 15%, daily sales up 18%, conversion rates up 12% in August compared with the start of the study on March 1st (the study covers a 140 day period between March 1st and August 1st). Year-over-year daily sales in the sector were 10% higher in early August 2020 than they were at the same time last year.

Meanwhile, the average order value (AOV) within Fashion & Accessories is down 6% from the start of the pandemic. Even though shoppers are browsing and buying clothes online more than before, they are not splurging or opting for the more expensive options.

“The increases in traffic, sales, and conversion rate are good news—but they are far from enough to counteract the negative effects of brick and mortar stores being shut down for months,” commented Chatt. “With consumers hungry for online and onsite experiences, Fashion & Accessories ecommerce brands have to grasp the opportunities to optimize these experiences, drive results and truly become digital-first.”

Beauty & Skincare ecommerce dips back down after Covid-19 bounce

With daily visits down 11%, daily sales down 20%, conversion rate down 5% and average order value up slightly (2%) from the start of the March, Beauty & Skincare ecommerce seems not to be sustaining the performance boost it received earlier in the pandemic period.

Traffic and sales in Beauty and Skincare showed unusual growth in the earlier part of the year after the pandemic restrictions took effect, but levels seem now to be returning to where they were in the same time period in 2019. At the beginning of August 2020, traffic decreased 6% compared to the beginning of August 2019 and sales had decreased 15%.

“This could be a sign that Beauty & Skincare aren’t—and won’t—see long-term effects from the pandemic lockdowns,” explained Chatt. “Retailers need to work really hard if they want to replicate the in-store experience online in this sector. Many are using online consultations and technology such AI to simulate how different products might appear on customers’ skin, for example, as well as using personalized recommendations and content to help shoppers easily find products they are looking for online.”

Home & Garden online performance outshines other sectors

In the Home & Garden sector, daily traffic in early August was up 24% with daily sales up 42%, conversion rates up 5% and average order value up 6% when compared with early March (the study covers a 140 day period between March 1st and August 1st).

Home & Garden ecommerce has seemingly done nothing but benefit from pandemic with its performance overall topping all other sectors as Jake Chatt Nosto’s Head of Brand Marketing explained.

“With many consumers expecting to be at home more, even after lockdowns have lifted, they are happy to spend more money online to improve their living space and make it more comfortable. And with vacation travel also not a possibility for many, people may also have been tempted to divert that spending toward purchases for their homes.”

At the end of the 140 day period in August, Home & Garden ecommerce sales were up 28% YoY when compared to the equivalent day the previous year.


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