New Study: Ecommerce Sales Globally Trending 7% Higher after a 66% Pandemic Spike in May

Home and Garden and Fashion ecommerce enjoy lasting upside from Covid-19; Beauty and Skincare dips back to last year’s online performance

Helsinki, Sept. 24, 2020 — Following a massive 66% spike in daily online sales in May1 when most physical stores were shut and consumers in many locations were under strict pandemic lockdowns, new data from Nosto suggests ecommerce performance globally has leveled off, now averaging 7% higher online sales daily and 3% greater traffic than at the same time last year.

Among the lasting winners of the shift to ecommerce due to the pandemic is the Home and Garden vertical which was averaging daily sales 42% higher in early August compared with the early phase of the crisis in March, according to the research. Fashion and Accessories also remains buoyant, with sales 18% higher in August than at the onset of the crisis and 10% higher year-over-year (YoY). Beauty & Skincare, on the other hand, has suffered a big climbdown with sales down 20% compared with March.

Nosto’s study, The State of Ecommerce Q3 2020 analyzed the performance of 500 online retail brands in US, UK, France, DACH, Nordics, and Asia Pacific (APAC) across 6 key vertical sectors between March and August this year and in 2019.

Nosto’s data suggests that overall sales and traffic remained 7% and 3% higher year-over-year (YoY) in August, which is unlikely to be enough to make up for the drastic drop in brick and mortar sales throughout the continuing pandemic affected period.

Currently the overall ecommerce conversion rate across all sectors is sticking at around 6% higher YoY, which suggests that either shoppers are much more committed to making purchases when they visit online stores or that retailers are doing a better job at convincing them to buy.

At the same time, however, average order value (AOV) across ecommerce is trending at just below last year’s numbers (between 0 and -3% below 2019), most likely because people are being cautious and counting their pennies due to ongoing economic uncertainty.

Fashion & Accessories is seeing lasting growth but consumers are spending less per order

Fashion and Accessories ecommerce is seeing a lasting upside from the crisis with daily visits up 15%, daily sales up 18%, conversion rates up 12% in August compared with the start of the study on March 1st (the study covers a 140 day period between March 1st and August 1st). Year-over-year daily sales in the sector were 10% higher in early August 2020 than they were at the same time last year.

Meanwhile, the average order value (AOV) within Fashion and Accessories is down 6% from the start of the pandemic. Even though shoppers are browsing and buying clothes online more than before, they are not splurging or opting for the more expensive options.

“The increases in traffic, sales, and conversion rate are good news—but they are far from enough to counteract the negative effects of brick and mortar stores being shut down for months,” commented Chatt. “With consumers hungry for online and onsite experiences, Fashion and Accessories ecommerce brands have to grasp the opportunities to optimize these experiences, drive results and truly become digital-first.”

Beauty and Skincare ecommerce dips back down after Covid-19 bounce

With daily visits down 11%, daily sales down 20%, conversion rate down 5% and average order value up slightly (2%) from the start of the March, Beauty and Skincare ecommerce seems not to be sustaining the performance boost it received earlier in the pandemic period.

Traffic and sales in Beauty and Skincare showed unusual growth in the earlier part of the year after the pandemic restrictions took effect, but levels seem now to be returning to where they were in the same time period in 2019. At the beginning of August 2020, traffic decreased 6% compared to the beginning of August 2019 and sales had decreased 15%.

“This could be a sign that Beauty and Skincare aren’t—and won’t—see long-term effects from the pandemic lockdowns,” explained Chatt. “Retailers need to work really hard if they want to replicate the in-store experience online in this sector. Many are using online consultations and technology such AI to simulate how different products might appear on customers’ skin, for example, as well as using personalized recommendations and content to help shoppers easily find products they are looking for online.”

Home and Garden online performance outshines other sectors

In the Home and Garden sector, daily traffic in early August was up 24% with daily sales up 42%, conversion rates up 5% and average order value up 6% when compared with early March (the study covers a 140 day period between March 1st and August 1st).

Home and Garden ecommerce has seemingly done nothing but benefit from pandemic with its performance overall topping all other sectors as Jake Chatt, Nosto’s Head of Brand Marketing, explained:

“With many consumers expecting to be at home more, even after lockdowns have lifted, they are happy to spend more money online to improve their living space and make it more comfortable. And with vacation travel also not a possibility for many, people may also have been tempted to divert that spending toward purchases for their homes.”

At the end of the 140 day period in August, Home and Garden ecommerce sales were up 28% YoY when compared to the equivalent day the previous year.

For more data and findings, charts including vertical sector comparisons download the report at:

1 Nosto’s data suggests that daily ecommerce sales peaked at 66% higher YoY on May 7th. Daily traffic also peaked at 37% higher YoY on the same day.

About the study 

The full dataset includes 500 Nosto-powered merchants that represent a solid cross-section of 6 select verticals and covers a period of 140 days from the beginning of May 2020 through early August 2020 compared to the equivalent time period last year. The sample includes merchants in the US, UK, France, DACH, Nordics, and Asia Pacific (APAC). The vertical sectors are Fashion & Accessories, Home and Garden, Beauty and Skincare,  Animal and Pet Supplies, Sports and Hobbies and Food and  Drink.

To generate useful comparisons, all year-over-year analysis is based on a seven-day rolling median, baselined to a point in time (T= 0) where the days of the week align between 2020 and 2019. This is because ecommerce activity varies depending on the day of the week, across different seasons, and the general trend is that ecommerce sales and activity are increasing overall.

For 2020, the analysis begins on Sunday March 1st, 2020 (Day 1 for 2020) and goes through Saturday August 1st (Day 140 for 2020). The comparison period for 2019 begins on Sunday March 3rd 2019 (Day 1 for 2019) and goes through Saturday August 3rd, 2019 (Day 140 for 2019). Since the equivalent time period in 2019 had almost no change in underlying metrics (e.g. no outliers due to holiday periods or sales), it’s a useful “point in time” snapshot to observe the KPI trends being seen in these verticals throughout these unusual second and third quarters.

About Nosto

Nosto enables retailers to deliver personalized digital shopping experiences at every touchpoint, across every device. An AI-Powered Commerce Experience Platform designed for ease of use, Nosto empowers retailers to build, launch and optimize 1:1 omnichannel marketing campaigns and digital experiences without the need for dedicated IT resources or a lengthy implementation process. Leading commerce brands in over 100 countries use Nosto to grow their business and delight their customers. Nosto supports its clients from its offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm and Helsinki.

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