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Ecommerce remains a bright spot for retail in EMEA


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With EMEA retailers coming off one of their most brutal months in history, the industry is looking to ecommerce sales to find some brightness in the midst of COVID-19.

With many retailers closed and with consumers being asked to stay at home, store visits fell by 85% in April in the UK, for instance. It was the worst decline in history, the Retail Gazette reported. Countries throughout the world experienced similar shutdowns, with similar results.

But ecommerce sales in EMEA were up 51% last week compared to the days before the pandemic, according to Signifyd’s Ecommerce Pulse data for the region. The trend is somewhat universal, with ecommerce sales globally up 49%, since the last week of February, which serves as a pre-pandemic benchmark.

It stands to reason that as stores are forced to close and consumers are advised or ordered to stay in their homes that shopping would shift online from physical stores. In the UK alone, ecommerce accounted for more than 22% of retail sales in March, according to the latest ONS data.

Helen Dickinson OBE, the chief executive of the BRC, said in a written statement that the ongoing lockdown is likely to speed up a retail transformation that was already underway.

“We will see an acceleration of many trends seen prior to the coronavirus pandemic – lower footfall as many consumers choose to browse digitally, and a corresponding rise in online sales,” Dickinson said. “These changes are requiring retailers to adapt quickly so that the industry can meet the needs of modern consumers and deal with the challenges the pandemic is presenting. Ultimately, the very nature of many retail jobs will change, with impressive customer service and the effective use of technology becomes even more vital.”

Besides the overall increase that EMEA has seen in ecommerce sales since the World Health Organization declared the pandemic, a number of interesting sub-plots emerged in the latest Signifyd Ecommerce Pulse figures.

Spending in the Luxury Goods category was up 51% in the week ending May 17. It was one of several big weeks for the vertical, which during the course of the pandemic has seen week-over-week increases of 72%, 31% and 20%.

Beauty and Cosmetics was another strong performer, up 21% week over week. The strong desire for Luxury Goods and Beauty and Cosmetics could be a sign of growing impatience among consumers who just want to be able to go out again.

The Consumer Medical Supplies & Supplements category was another large gainer, rising 36% week-over-week in a time when many are laser focused on health. In fact, the category has seen other big weekly jumps during the course of the pandemic.

The biggest drop of the week was seen in the Alcohol & Tobacco category, which was down 16% week over week. Over the course of the pandemic, the category has had some very strong weeks — up 35%, 32% and 26% — followed relatively soon after by a tapering off.

In all, seven of the 12 major categories that the Ecommerce Pulse follows in EMEA fell below their previous week’s sales, but the declines were generally modest. Meanwhile, of the five categories that gained sales, four of them showed double-digit increases.

Mike Cassidy

Mike is lead storyteller at Signifyd. A former journalist and a retail geek, he covers ecommerce and the way technology is transforming digital commerce. Contact him at mike.cassidy@signifyd.com; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.