Since the Coronavirus first emerged in late 2019 in Wuhan, China it has gone on to run rampage around the world leaving a trail of death, destruction and disability in its wake. However, while the medical and threat-to-life challenges posed by COVID have undoubtedly been tragic, the virus has also caused a major shift-change in the way we live – and, not least of all, in the way we shop.
Through the distancing and isolation measures that were imposed through Coronavirus, would-be shoppers had little choice but to move online for their retail fix. Indeed, experts believe the lockdowns caused by the virus have accelerated the take-up and growth of e-commerce by as much as four to six years.
Exponential e-com growth due largely to the pandemic
While e-commerce had already been changing the face of traditional shopping for many years, the mass adoption of online purchasing through COVID has utterly transformed the retail industry. The e-commerce sector had already almost quadrupled over the last decade but, in the wake of Coronavirus, e-com has mushroomed. The stats make for intriguing reading:
- 67% of all consumers report that their shopping habits have changed in light of the pandemic
- Somewhere between 20-30% of all business transactions moved online as a result of lockdowns and the virus.
- Online grocery shopping grew to an estimated 9-12% of total grocery sales – a massive jump from previous, pre-pandemic times.
- Online shopping matured from being mostly the preserve of low-value goods to encompass high-value purchases like cars, homes, and so on. Companies like the Hilton car supermarket enjoyed a period of exponential growth while the popularity of online realtors and car supermarkets has exploded.
- The spending on recreational goods online increased by around 18% due to the huge growth in home exercise equipment.
- Through 2020, purchasing over social media platforms increased massively with social commerce accounting for around 3.4% of all e-commerce sales.
- As a direct knock-on of the virus, contactless payment solutions became the preferred method of payment over traditional money. In particular, mobile payment platforms enjoyed a 22.2% through 2020 alone.
The future moving forward post-COVID – will habits prove hard to break?
It might be considered folly to consider a world post-COVID considering the dangers posed by new variants, but one would like to think there are glimmers of hope on the horizon given the mass global rollout of vaccinations. Regardless, from a shopping perspective, retailers are already speculating as to what the future might hold for the sector in general.
Most industry experts believe the cultural and psychological shift to online shopping is unlikely to simply disappear in a COVID-free world. As has been proven time and time again, instilled habits are often very difficult to break and given the continued suggestion of distancing it seems highly likely that contactless payments and online shopping are very much here to stay. However, you look at it, the implications of COVID seem very likely to have changed the world as we knew it forever – not least of which in the way choose to shop in the future.