Countries Covered: Canada, USA
Publication Date: 25/06/2020
Questions Covered in the report:
- How did the coronavirus outbreak affect the development of B2C E-Commerce in North America?
- What are the 2020 post-COVID projections for online retail sales in Canada and the USA?
- Which product categories did North American consumers buy online during the lockdown?
- What is the impact of COVID-19 on online and mobile payments in this region?
- Which digital verticals in the U.S. are projected to grow as a result of the outbreak, and which ones to decline?
North America’s B2C E-Commerce Sales Rise Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
North American consumers pivot to online shopping during the pandemic
Since the start of the lockdown in March 2020, online retail sales across North America have been on the rise. Consumers sheltering in place turned to E-Commerce websites to buy daily necessities and other products. In the U.S., more than one in four shoppers were buying online more than usual in March 2020, rising to one in two by April 2020. Also in Canada, E-Commerce growth accelerated as the lockdown lingered, with online sales more than doubling in April 2020 compared to the same month in 2019. This stunning growth, however, was not sufficient to compensate for the decline in brick-and-mortar sales, causing overall retail sales volumes to shrink. Between March and May 2020, total retail sales fell by more than -10% in the U.S., while in Canada, sales were down by one-third in April 2020 alone. As a result, E-Commerce’s share of total retail sales is projected to increase significantly in 2020, gaining several percentage points both in Canada and the U.S., according to projections cited by yStats.com.
Top product categories purchased online amid COVID-19
The leading product categories that North American consumers purchased the most over the past few months included food and beverages, health and beauty, and hygiene and disease-prevention products. Furthermore, several online services such as video streaming, gaming, and food delivery received a boost during the outbreak. Online streaming platforms such as Netflix gained new subscribers, and app downloads of grocery delivery services like Instacart and Walmart more than doubled at the start of the lockdown in the U.S. On the other hand, online travel received a major hit from the lockdown and travel restrictions, with U.S. sales projected to drop by almost a half in 2020.
COVID-19 gives rise to contactless delivery and payments
Social distancing measures gave rise to a new form of delivery for online orders. Contactless delivery was used by more than two-thirds of U.S. adults, according to a May 2020 survey cited in the yStats.com report. Also with regard to payments, contactless is the new normal, with nearly a third of U.S. consumers starting to use contactless card and mobile payments since the outbreak. When buying online, shoppers in both in the U.S. continued to give their preference to credit card payments.
The outbreak to affect the future development of North America’s online retail
The COVID-19 outbreak is expected to influence the B2C E-Commerce market in the U.S. and Canada for years to come. Following the robust growth in 2020, online retail sales are projected to slow in 2021 as the effect of the looming economic recession kicks in. However, the trend of buying more items online and less in-store is expected to linger post the pandemic, benefitting online sales of large retailers such as Amazon, Walmart and Canadian Tire.