One of the clearest trends in the data at the moment shows that European consumers in lockdown such as those in the UK, France, and Italy, are placing more orders with pure e-commerce brands. Those brands are seeing on average a +40% to +80% year on year growth according to our dataset, contrasted with a steady decline in growth in Sweden (where there is currently no lockdown in effect.)
This is due in part to a shift from offline retailers (with stores mainly closed in those areas) but reports from some omnichannel retailers indicate that growth in their online channels include some net-new-growth as consumers have more disposable income freed up from no commuting, eating out, etc and take up new hobbies to pass the time indoors. For example, a discussion with Paul McManus, Chief Executive of the UK’s Music Industry Association, revealed that in addition to sales of musical instrument shifting to online from offline ‘…certainly many more musicians are being created during lockdown’ indicating net-new-growth in that sector that will likely be mirrored in many other sectors too for e-commerce brands.
The exact impact of the lockdowns will be an area to watch over the next few weeks as we see a divergence in strategy between countries – the UK has extended their lockdown for at least three more weeks while France, Germany, and Norway are looking to ease the lockdown by reopening schools and small shops. As with many aspects of the world’s response to Covid-19, the real question is whether these trends represent ‘new normals’ or whether consumer behaviour will spring back to pre-virus. In the short term at least e-commerce brands should look to maximize gains where operational capacity allows.