As brick-and-mortar shopping continued to become more prevalent throughout the world, the pace of ecommerce spending dropped 2% week over week. However, some verticals that had been hard hit at times during the pandemic showed signs of sustained recovery.
Just two weeks ago, online sales in the Health & Beauty vertical were down 30 percent compared to pre-pandemic sales, using the week beginning Feb. 25 as a benchmark. But after two solid weeks in a row, including the most recent week’s 20% rise in ecommerce sales, beauty is now trending just 5% below its pre-pandemic performance.
Electronics, which has seen its share of down weeks (and during one week in April reported sales down 36% from pre-pandemic days) was up 13% for the most recent week, following a 9% sales boost the previous week. Overall, weekly sales in the category are now 93% above where they were the week beginning Feb. 25.
Based on the most recent Ecommerce Pulse data, sales in only two retail categories are below where they were prior to the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beauty, as we mentioned, is one. The other is Business Supplies, which was hard hit by the closure of many businesses in the face of stay-at-home orders and because of employers’ desire to keep employees safe.
In fact, weekly ecommerce spending in the Business Supply category is lagging its pre-pandemic numbers by 24%. Still, the category has been performing better as economies around the world begin to open up or open up to a greater degree. For the week ending June 22, sales in the category were up 21%.
The category was one that Signifyd data shows consumers were willing to invest in when government stimulus checks arrived. An analysis of transactions made with debit cards used by the U.S. government to issue stimulus payments showed a 228% increase in spending on business supplies in the days after the cards arrived at taxpayers’ homes.
The Business Supply surge is something of a bright spot, indicating that businesses are opening up or plan to be opening up soon. The category could serve as an economic barometer as the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. continue to rise. If business owners think better of reopening offices and shops or if government authorities revert to stricter regulations governing business openings, the category’s expansion could fizzle.
Most of the verticals that the Pulse follows moved up or down in a narrow band, as they have for several weeks now. The Consumer Medical Supplies & Supplements category was flat. Alcohol, Tobacco & Cannabis registered no change. Luxury Goods spending was up 1%.
The fact that modest changes are replacing the wild swings that were common in the early weeks of the pandemic is likely a sign that consumers are settling into a “normal-for-now” that sees pantries stocked, rooms redecorated, entertainment needs met and summer in much of the world in full swing.