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Retail in Europe appears to be firing on both online and in-store cylinders 

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Ecommerce spending in Europe remained at a level significantly above pre-pandemic figures during the week just ended, even as consumers appeared to be warming to the idea of shopping in stores rather than steadily increasing their online purchases.

Signifyd Ecommerce Pulse data shows online spending was 27% higher for the seven-day period ending August 23, compared to where it was during the first week of March. Some commerce verticals, of course, were trending well above the 27% mark, while others fell short.

The week’s data fit a summer pattern of narrow changes in week-over-week ecommerce spending, with the most recent week showing a 4% increase over the previous week.

The overall retail picture has also shown some signs of moderation in the summer months. Great Britain’s Office of National Statistics (ONS), for instance, reported last week that retail sales were up 3.6% in July over June’s figures.

The July number reflects a 7% month-over-month decline in online sales, which the ONS attributed to the opening of more brick-and-mortar stores and restaurants. The increased openings give consumers more options for where to spend money. 

But as Signifyd’s wider European data also shows, the ONS stressed that online spending in Great Britain is still well above pre-pandemic levels. 

Given ecommerce’s strong overall position since the pandemic, even when week-over-week figures are down, Signifyd’s Managing Director, EMEA Ed Whitehead said retailers needed to continue to focus on their ecommerce initiatives. 

“The importance of this change towards online sales for retailers is crucial. It’s reflected in Signifyd’s own data,” Whitehead said. “We expect online sales will continue on at a level far above pre-pandemic figures and that this trajectory will be retail’s key to growth for the foreseeable future.”

Examining spending by commerce vertical, it’s clear that Auto, Parts & Tires has continued to be a strong category during the pandemic. Sales are up 174% in the category since early March. Home, Goods & Decor continues to be a strong performer as millions of Europeans spend far more time at home than they have been accustomed to. Spending in the category was up 150% since early March.

Looking at spending changes from one week to the next, it appears as the early pandemic days of stockpiling, shortages and wild swings attributed to scant supply and over-heated demand are far behind us. 

Fashion, Apparel & Luggage sales were 14% higher week-over-week, while Home Goods & Decor and Auto, Parts & Tires were both up 12%. On the downside, Luxury Goods slid 23% week-over week, while Grocery & Household Goods declined 11%. 

As consumers continue to adjust to life with the coronavirus, seasonal and macroeconomic forces are more likely to drive short-term changes in ecommerce sales. The next significant test of this will be the coming holiday season — a season that, if trends hold, could be both epic and hectic for those who run ecommerce enterprises. 

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].