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Coronavirus Causes Late Spike in February E-Commerce Activity

23 March 2020 - 14:42 by Graham Miller

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While last month was not especially reassuring for retailers that offer safe shopping online, the latest figures from IMRG show that the effects of the coronavirus on consumer behaviour were starting to take effect towards the end of February.

Sales fell by 0.7 per cent overall, although retailers that solely sell products online rather than also operating bricks and mortar outlets actually enjoyed a 12.5 per cent boost, compared with the 8.2 per cent downturn undergone by their omni-channel counterparts.

Report spokesperson Andy Mulcahy said that the impact of the spread of the coronavirus would likely be far more pronounced in the figures for online sales over the course of March, although he also indicated that changes were already afoot in February.

He said that even those shoppers who are not especially enamoured with online shopping, or carry it out as one part of their overall retail spending habits, would have little choice but to join their peers in buying from the web over the coming weeks and months.

Bad weather also played a part in restricting shopping over the course of February, with retailers in the garden and footwear categories experiencing especially poor performance as a result of heavy rains and stormy weather, which was a factor across the UK.

However, expectations for a turnaround to these categories in particular is now predicted, since people will be looking to buy products that allow them to make the most of their time at home, particularly if they have outdoor spaces which they can make use of during isolation.

The expectations at the moment are that online shopping will soar as the pandemic spreads, with at least 12 weeks of disruption ahead likely to be boon for retailers that have shopping sites available.