U.S. Ecommerce Sales Up 25% Due to COVID-19, E-Grocery Doubles

Driven by COVID-19 impacts, U.S. ecommerce sales surged in a number of categories in March, with e-grocery sales doubling between March 13-15 compared to March 1-11, and overall ecommerce sales rising 25% in the same comparison, according to new data from Adobe Analytics.

Between Jan. 1 and March 11, Adobe found, the stockpiling phenomenon drove an 807% jump in sales of hand sanitizers, gloves, masks and anti-bacterial sprays, with toilet paper increasing 231%, over-the-counter medications going up 217% and canned and non-perishable food items increasing 87%.

Another big gain was seen in buy online pickup in store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup, increasing 62% between Feb. 24 and March 21 compared to the same period in 2019, as the already-growing tactic is perfectly suited for the current reality of social distancing and non-contact.

Other notable category jumps included sales of home exercise equipment (up 55%) and desktop and laptop computers for home office and education needs (up 40%). States that saw the biggest lift in online sales included California, New Hampshire and Oregon.

“Seeing the incredible upswing in ecommerce spending in light of the COVID-19 outbreak suggests that there’s a strong need for an understanding of how pricing trends and inflation in online sales compares to and impacts those same trends in overall sales,” said John Copeland, vice president of marketing and customer insights for Adobe, said in a blog post.

According to Adobe’s Digital Economy Index, the digital purchasing power of consumers is up 3% from 2019, and up 20% since 2014, with $1 being the equivalent of $1.20 to buy in 2014. Over that period, $1 spent buying a similar set of goods offline lost value, with $1 in 2020 buying what would have cost 88 cents in 2014. “However, the expectation is that as more of people’s lives move online, the offline and online economies will continue to converge and so will their prices,” Adobe said.

Apparel led all categories in share of U.S. online sales, Adobe said, at 23% share, followed by electronics (16%), home and garden (12%), computers (8%), groceries (8%), home improvement tools (5%), home appliances (4%), personal care products (4%), flowers and related gifts (3%) and office supplies (3%). Sporting goods, books, jewelry, furniture and bedding, pet supplies, toys and games were all at 2%.

“Companies need to pay extra special attention to their digital and ecommerce experiences right now,” Copeland said in the blog post. “Consumers are less forgiving during a time like this, and the companies that meet and exceed their needs will build loyalty and lifetime value.”

The Digital Economy Index is based on analysis of over one trillion visits to sites and over 100 million SKUs. Adobe Analytics measures transactions from 80 of the top 100 U.S. ecommerce retailers.

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