Impact of Coronavirus on eCommerce: Traffic Surge Stalls and Pure Play Brands Gaining Share (Update 13)


Jean-Marc Bellaiche

May 29, 2020 | 2 min read

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’ve been closely monitoring digital consumer behavior for the past 14 weeks to understand how Coronavirus has impacted digital business and consumer behavior across industries. Every week we’ve compared traffic, transactions, and engagement metrics with the previous week’s numbers, and with data collected in the period immediately preceding the introduction of quarantine measures in the West (or, the first 6 weeks of the year, which we call the reference period). 

Here are some of the insights we surfaced this week:

eCommerce Traffic and Transactions Down Overall but On the Up in Some Sectors 

Global digital traffic was down -8% this week, with transactions dropping by -2%. These week on week losses have not made a strong dent however in the overall growth observed across industries: traffic is up +19% since the start of the crisis, and the volume of sales has grown by +36%.

There was a +10% increase in transactions on home decor sites this past week, marking perhaps a new mini-wave of home and garden improvement. We also noted a +12% increase in transactions on fashion sites and an +8% increase in transactions on luxury sites, contributing to the sector’s strong digital recovery over the past few months.

Traffic by Industry - Coronavirus impact on eComm

Transactions by industry - Coronavirus impact on eComm

Consumer Electronics: Pure Play Brands Lead in Traffic Growth

Global traffic to consumer electronics sites was down -7% last week from the previous week, with transactions also taking a hit (-11%). Despite the recent decline in visits and sales, the sector as a whole is still enjoying significant digital growth, with +32% more traffic than pre-Covid levels, and +37% more transactions.

Pure players have been driving most of this traffic growth, although click-and-mortar brands are stronger on conversion, with x1.8 times the volume of pre-quarantine sales (versus x1.4 for pure players). For pure play brands, however, this +40% increase constitutes net gains, as they are not compensating for the interruption of their offline revenue.

Hurting Travel Sector Enjoys Fourth Week of Double Digit Growth

This week again, the largest increase in the volume of visits was recorded in the travel sector, which saw its traffic grow by +12%. Transactions were also on the up, growing by +15% from the previous week (adding to the +40% surge observed last week).

Camping trips continued on their remarkable sprint to recovery this past week, with sites now seeing 63% of their pre-quarantine traffic (versus 54% the previous week). And it seems that people are increasingly willing to commit to this type of travel, with the sector now recording 71% its ‘normal’ volume of transactions (up from 17% less than a month ago). Car rentals, too, are still on the up, confirming last week’s observations on domestic travel plans

But when it comes to customer engagement, consumers are still spending more time on hotel sites than any other travel sub-sector — in fact, slightly more time than they were spending before the onset of the outbreak in the West. As restrictions ease in many parts of the world, consumers may be starting to consider once again options for summer travel.

Sports Equipment Sites Lead With Transactions

Brands selling sporting goods are today seeing +132% more online transactions than before the crisis, with this extra volume coming from a +57% increase in digital traffic. With group sports a thing of the past in many places and cities restricting access to parks and recreation areas, consumers have been upgrading their workout-from-home situation and investing in solo sporting activities such as running and hiking.