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How Has E-Commerce Changed Since the First Outbreak?

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By Published On: April 28, 20200 Comments

In a matter of weeks, the world was turned on its head. It seemed as if the entire planet shut down in the blink of an eye. As we begin to relax some restrictions across NSW, Queensland and plan for others across Australia, it's important to recognise how much e-commerce has changed since the first COVID-19 case. 

Leading up to the third instalment of the Let’s Regrow Town Hall information session, Power Retail has investigated the effect of the coronavirus on retail throughout the country.

On March 1st, Australia recorded its first victim from COVID-19, which was met with mass working from home orders across the country from mid-March.

During March, Power Retail saw a 30 percent swing from shoppers who planned to spend the same online to shoppers who planned to spend less online. Since then, there have been positive signs that online will continue to boom, despite massive job losses and fear of COVID-19.

Consumer Behavioural Changes

There was a significant break down in spending habits for shoppers under 25, who were most likely to decrease spending online. On April 1st, Power Retail reported that 39 percent of shoppers under the age of 25 were planning to reduce online expenditures. This, however, has changed in the last few weeks. As of April 16th, there was a significant shift in the spending habits of shoppers under the age of 25, with 50 percent now planning to spend more online in the coming month.

The rebound is ‘equally strong’ in the under 34s category, showing promising signs of online shopper confidence. This coincided with the announcements regarding JobKeeper and other government measures to help offset the COVID-19 impact.

Popular Categories

For the first few weeks of April, there was mass stockpiling of essentials such as toilet paper, pasta and flour from supermarkets. This lead to the introduction of community-specific hours from supermarkets across the country, and restrictive quantities available for purchase.

According to the second instalment of the Let’s Regrow Town Hall information session, Power Retail dissected the most popular categories within retail. Due to the number of COVID-19 cases dropping over the last few weeks, there has been less stockpiling than the previous few weeks. Our April 1 report saw a big surge in the propensity to spend more on food and drink products online,” said Grant Arnott, the Managing Director of Power Retail. As a result of this,  this has been cut from 46 percent to 37 percent, with 50 percent indicating their spend to be the same, meaning the ‘big shift to online spending on grocery already happened in March and should now be steady’.

The Effect on Retailers

At the beginning of April, the COVID-1 effect was still fresh, meaning retailers had to rapidly change their plans for controlling the impact of the virus. In the first Let’s Regrow Town Hall session, 72 percent of online retailers planned to reduce operating costs. As of April 16th, 24 percent of online retailers claimed the strategy remained ‘business as usual’, compared to 17 percent two weeks prior.

On April 1st, 16 percent of retailers witnessed online sales decreases of greater than 50 percent, and 30 percent collectively saw worse than 20 percent sales decreases. Two weeks later, the ‘freefall in sales declines’ that afflicted many retailers in March has not continued to the same extent through April.

Furthermore, on the 16th April, 37 percent of retailers said they were experiencing a downfall in sales of more than 20 percent. Two weeks before, this number was significantly higher, with a collective 41 percent of online retailers experiencing 20 percent or more downfall.

Where Now?

While Australia begins the plans to re-open certain parts of regular life, it’s too early to say that the country us returning to normal. Tune in to the third instalment of the Let’s Regrow Town Hall information session, which takes place on Thursday, April 30th at 12:00 PM AEST.

Power Retail will be joined by Dominique Lamb, the CEO of the National Retail Association and more industry experts who will examine the impact of the virus across Australian online retail.

In this Member-Exclusive webinar, we will break down the impact of COVID19 on e-commerce, and feature a plethora of informative and actionable insights from industry experts.

Sign up to access the webinar series and much more with a Power Retail Membership today and get your first two weeks FREE

Power Retail is dedicated to providing critical and live e-commerce retailer benchmarking data and shopper insights for the online retail industry. Click here to find out more about Power Retail E-Commerce Intelligence or here to sign-up for the free weekly Pulse Newsletter for more essential online retail content.

About the Author: Power Retail

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