COVID-19 drives a 60% increase in revenue for online retail

New research highlights how the nationwide lockdown and social distancing measures have impacted consumer purchasing habits across the retail industry

With the UK government announcing the extension of the national lockdown by an additional three weeks, new data from Fresh Relevance, the real-time personalisation and optimisation platform, indicates that the evolving COVID-19 pandemic drove a revenue increase of 60% for online retail in March.

The findings, taken from a sample of 278 businesses within Fresh Relevance’s client base, document how the introduction of social distancing measures impacted consumer purchasing habits week-on-week. While online sales increased moderately in the first week of March, revenues jumped in the second half of the month when the UK government introduced the stay-at-home rules.

Yet, whilst online retail as a whole saw a rise in revenue across March 2020, the impact varied by vertical. Toys and games ecommerce businesses have seen the greatest growth, with a rise in revenue to 341%, followed by food and drink and the tobacco and vaping sectors, both of which rose to over 200% of their normal revenue.

Other sectors that have experienced significant growth include home and garden, technology and sports and hobbies, with revenue increasing to between 150% and 200% of what it was at the beginning of the month. For the health category, which became more prominent in March, there is a mixed story. Whilst there was a steady increase in revenue at the start of the month, this began to drop mid-month, before levelling out.

Despite considerable growth for certain retail verticals, the data highlights the varied impact of the coronavirus crisis across the industry. For the office supplies, jewellery and luxury goods, insurance and finance and automotive verticals, the changing consumer habits have driven a fall in average revenue.

Mike Austin, CEO & co-founder of Fresh Relevance comments: “The COVID-19 pandemic has seen consumers’ day-to-day routines and habits change dramatically as a result of social distancing measures implemented across the globe. Whilst the impact across the retail sector as a whole has been varied, the temporary closure of many physical stores and self-isolation of consumers has created opportunities for a number of ecommerce verticals. For most of us, the home now serves as a place for work, schooling, exercise and relaxation, and shopping habits in March were hugely reflective of this as everyone was forced to adapt.

“With the situation constantly evolving, brands need to put convenience and relevance at the heart of their marketing strategy to help consumers navigate these unprecedented times. New habits and ways of shopping are occurring now that could extend once the stay-at-home orders lift. So online retailers also need to start planning a path forward, and ensure to have marketing tactics in place that deliver ROI while enhancing the customer experience and building loyalty in a post-pandemic world.”

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