Ecommerce Sales Surge in 2020 Despite Retail Decline

U.S. ecommerce sales, already growing fast before COVID-19, accelerated when the pandemic hit the country in March and shows no sign of slowing anytime soon. As consumers have demonstrated a clear movement towards buying online rather than at brick-and-mortar stores, the ecommerce industry is delivering impressive results in 2020 despite the reduction in overall retail sales.

According to a global Salesforce study reported by digitalcommerce360, 63% of consumers said the way they obtain goods and services “transformed” during 2020. 58% of consumers said they expect to do more online shopping after the pandemic compared with the pre-pandemic period, and 80% of business buyers surveyed expect to do more business purchasing online in the post-pandemic era than they did before. As a result, ecommerce is thriving.

The e commerce giant Amazon, for example, is continuing to hire employees to meet demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Beginning in March, the company hired 100,000 temporary/seasonal employees and later stated it would permanently keep 70% of those new hires. This is after announcing at the end of last year that it would bring on 200,000 temporary workers for the holiday season. In September, Amazon announced plans to hire an additional 100,000 employees across its operations in the U.S. and Canada.

The foremost bidding-oriented online auction site DealDash also experienced an increasing influx of new customers in the second quarter of the year, which slowly decreased to regular level throughout Q3-Q4. Beyond that, DealDash Reviews claimed their online auctions offered “an entertaining way to pass time”, especially since more people were sequestered at home during the pandemic.

Plus, many ecommerce companies are taking advantage of people staying at home in 2020 by elongating their Black Friday deals for a few weeks. Amazon even held their annual Prime Day event in October (instead of in July) to take advantage of the transition to online-focused shopping over the course of 2020 as well as people’s desire to buy holiday gifts early. This year’s Prime Day sales surpassed last year’s 48-hour event by 45.2%. And the increase in sales across the ecommerce industry is not expected to slow for the upcoming holiday season.

In fact, Deloitte projects online sales to grow by 25% to 35%, year-over-year, during the 2020 and 2021 holiday season compared to just 14.7% in 2019. So while high unemployment and economic anxiety has and will likely continue to weigh on overall retail sales, online ecommerce sales should rake in between $182 billion and $196 billion this upcoming season. Reduced spending on pandemic-sensitive services such as restaurants and travel may also help bolster ecommerce holiday sales according to Daniel Bachman, Deloitte’s U.S. economic forecaster.

The growth in online sales this year is also noticeable in the housing auction industry. While auction houses saw a nearly 50% drop in sales in the first eight months of 2020, online-only housing auction sales rose 255%, according to research by the London-based research and analysis firm ArtTactic.

And as auctions increasingly began testing interest in buying higher-priced fine art and collectibles online, the average price for digital sales soared from US$8,157 in 2019 to US$23,612 within the first eight months of the year–a 207% increase. The escalating prices collectors are willing to pay for arts online reflect “more confidence among buyers and from auctions in curating higher-value sales,” says Anders Petterson, founder and managing director of ArtTactic.

The surge in online auction sales in 2020 across a number of industries further underscores the huge rise in overall eCommerce sales as more people than ever have begun to evolve their shopping behavior and rely on online shopping.

Even when we revert to normality, traditional (offline) sales are likely to have a strong digital aspect and ecommerce sales will likely continue to thrive. The old normal of 2019 and the early months of 2020, before the pandemic hit the U.S. in March, is almost certainly a thing of the past.