Coronavirus ecommerce

From midnight on March 23 to June 15, the UK government enforced the closure of nonessential retail stores as part of strict lockdown measures. During the intervening 12 weeks, UK consumers who wanted to purchase anything other than groceries or medications could not do so in-store. COVID-19 forced UK consumers as well as US consumers to buy online, which reflected in a double-digit growth of the industry.

Even when the high street opened back up, things were far from normal: Social-distancing measures meant queues were commonplace and footfall in stores was limited. In-store mask-wearing was strictly enforced. Large proportions of the population continued to shelter at home, while many eschewed physical shopping altogether out of an abundance of caution. Little wonder, then, that retail ecommerce looks set for a bumper year.

UK Retail Ecommerce Sales, 2019-2024 (billions of £, % change, and % of retail sales)

eMarketer forecasts that UK consumers will spend £141.33 billion ($180.39 billion) online this year, up a massive 34.7% from 2019. This significant increase will see ecommerce account for more than 30% of total retail sales in the UK for the first time. In 2019, that share stood at just 21.8%. Similar situation in the US – The pandemic has accelerated ecommerce growth in the US this year, with online sales reaching a level not previously expected until 2022. In our Q3 US retail forecast, the top 10 retailers by ecommerce sales will tighten their grip on the retail market.