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Ecommerce spending holds steady to begin September

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Online sales in Europe remained level during the week just ended, Signifyd’s Ecommerce Pulse data shows.

The muted spending was not necessarily surprising given it follows a week in which consumers turned to ecommerce at a rate not seen in months, meaning shoppers might have been sated going into the first week of September.

Although there was no change in overall ecommerce spending, certain commerce verticals saw some significant swings. Beauty & Cosmetics sales were up 17%, marking the second week in a row of strong sales.

Sales in the Leisure & Outdoor category were up 13%, despite the fact that the days of summer are dwindling. It’s possible shoppers were feasting on end-of-season sales or perhaps preparing for one last summer hurrah.

Home Goods & Decor continued its muscular pandemic era sales, with receipts increasing 11% week over week. With the coronavirus pandemic continuing on, consumers have been spending a lot of time at home and they’ve shown an interest in making home as pleasant as possible. In fact, spending in the category is up 244% from its pre-pandemic numbers.

Business Supplies, a category that not surprisingly has struggled mightily during the pandemic (sales in the vertical are down 22% since the onset of COVID-19), had a relatively rare up week. Sales in the category increased 7% for the week.

Other categories that saw notable swings include Luxury Goods, which were down 38% and Alcohol, Tobacco & Cannabis, which fell 9% week over week.

In fact, Alcohol, Tobacco & Cannabis is now down 13% from its sales in early March, just before the World Health Organization declared the global pandemic. Luxury Goods remains up for the pandemic period, but only by 1%.

The changes came during a week when the British Retail Consortium released a report showing a generally steady recovery for brick-and-mortar stores in August compared to the earliest weeks after lock downs were lifted by European governments.

France has shown the strongest bounce-back in week 11 of the post-lockdown by the BRC’s count. The UK is second, with Germany close behind. Italy is trailing the subset of countries, having seen a strong increase in footfall during week six of the post-lockdown period, before steeply declining in weeks eight and nine.

And here’s the thing: While the chart in the BRC’s report shows footfall rising in the above countries and Spain, footfall, of course, isn’t anything near what it was a year ago. France, for instance, has seen footfall rise to a point where it is about 20% below where it was a year ago. That’s up from being down more than 80% in week one post lockdown.

All of which makes it hard to know how much of an effect consumers’ return to stores is having on ecommerce sales. In comments sent with its report, the BRC made it clear that retailers still have plenty to worry about when it comes to their brick-and-mortar operations, particularly for those stores located on the high street in city centers.

BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson, OBE, said the combination of most offices being closed and consumers’ fear of taking public transportation is putting a strain on businesses in city centers. She added that the situation would not get better as long as the government encouraged people to work from home.

“Government should also recognize that, while footfall is so low,” she said, “many businesses will not be able to manage their fixed costs – rent and business rates in particular – and unnecessary job losses and store closures
will follow.”

Photo by Getty Images

Mike Cassidy

Mike Cassidy

Mike is the head of storytelling at Signifyd. A former journalist and a retail geek, he covers ecommerce and the way technology is transforming digital commerce. Contact him at [email protected].