Call Your Mom & Work Out From Home: 5 Ways The Coronavirus Impacted Browsing Behaviors Last Week


Aimee Stone Munsell

March 27, 2020 | 3 min read

Last Updated: Mar 20, 2023

To provide understanding during this uncertain time, we are monitoring the impact of coronavirus on online consumer behaviors. See the latest data on our Covid-19 eCommerce Impact data hub.

We analyzed billions of visitor sessions this week to learn more about how consumers in France, the UK and the US are responding digitally to the unfolding health crisis. As people everywhere adjust to the new normal and prioritize the things that matter the most to them, this data surfaces fascinating insights on resilience and adaptation, and how even in uncertain times, some things never change.

Unless otherwise specified, we’ve compared data from the past week to figures from the period immediately preceding the global reporting of the outbreak (or, the first 6 weeks of the year which we call the reference period).

Wishing UK Moms a Happy Mother’s Day (From 6 Feet Away)

Consumers worldwide may be reserving the bulk of their digital time for carrying out essential quarantine activities such as grocery shopping and staying informed, but that doesn’t mean life doesn’t go on. With the PM urging UK families not to visit their moms last Sunday, many did not let the social distancing measures get in the way of celebrating Mother’s Day, which in the UK is on March 22nd.

In fact, the week leading up to Mother’s Day saw a tremendous increase in the number of transactions on UK jewelry and watch sites (+96%), compared to the reference week (first 6 weeks of 2020 = reference period). On beauty sites, transactions were up +67%, compared to the reference period.

impact of Coronavirus on transactions by industry

US Consumers Get Ready to Exercise at Home

For the 62.5 million people in the US who have a gym membership, the closing of fitness and recreation centers around the country has meant coming up with new ways to stay fit from home. After a -20% drop in visits the week beginning March 9, the online sports retail sector in the US bounced back this past week with a +23% increase in the number of visits and a +186% hike in transactions, compared to the week before.


Sports equipment retailers in the US saw a +186% increase in transactions, compared to the week before.

French Fashion Says “Shopping Can Wait”

With French consumers part of the one third of the world that is currently on lockdown, industries most closely associated with French style — fashion and luxury — have taken a hit as people stay confined to their homes. While fashion sites have lost traffic the world over (-27% the number of visits), French sites have been particularly hard hit, with -53% fewer visits compared to before the start of the crisis.


impact of Coronavirus on traffic by industry

And while transactions on these sites have dropped -25% globally, the decrease was much wider in France, where sites recorded a -60% decrease in transactions. Popular high street fashion store Pimkie has suspended its eShop until further notice, stating that “Shopping can wait.”

impact of Coronavirus on transactions by industry

Luxury told a similar story, with French traffic dropping -56% in the past week (compared to -32% globally), and consumers making -65% fewer transactions (compared to -35% globally). With Italy’s fashion and textile industry also on lockdown, a brand like Gucci, which has a warehouse in Tuscany, has had to temporarily suspend deliveries to Europe, while continuing to run normal online operations in the US.

UK Supermarkets Overwhelmed By Surge In Demand

Traffic to online grocery stores has exploded in the UK since the onset of the crisis, with supermarkets recording a +225% increase in visits (almost five times more the increase observed in the US). Transactions however are down -61%. In comparison, global supermarket transactions are up +39%.

It appears that stores in the UK have been struggling to keep up with demand and have been running out of delivery slots. Some chains, like Iceland, temporary suspended their online delivery service to anyone but the elderly and most vulnerable, although delivery appears to be back to normal as of 3/26. Others are prioritizing deliveries for those most at risk and leveraging data to reserve slots for those who need them most.

impact of Coronavirus on traffic by industry

Cans & Booze in France, Soap & Cleaning Supplies in the UK and US

A deep dive into most popular supermarket items revealed that consumers in France are shopping for the long term, with canned goods at the top of their most reached pages list. UK consumers are heading primarily to pages featuring hand soap, while consumers in the US are browsing en masse for cleaning products.

Pages featuring alcoholic beverages recorded a much higher reach rate in France than in any other country we analyzed, seeming to confirm the age old stereotype that wine is a staple of any French meal, even during a quarantine. Meanwhile, the chance of UK and US consumers reaching alcohol category pages was lower than average, suggesting perhaps that drinking is much more of a social affair in these countries.


For a free walkthrough of the latest data, sign up for our upcoming webinar on March 31st, 1pm.