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Europe sees scattered ecommerce growth; awaits store openings in England

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With shops and malls open or opening across Europe, online sales continue to grow, though more modestly than in the earlier days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Signifyd’s Ecommerce Pulse data shows.

Ecommerce sales were up 3% week over week in Europe, as countries made plans to open their borders to encourage tourism. Pressure has grown to move toward a more normal state of affairs as a way of resuscitating economies that have been struggling in the aftermath of stay-at-home orders and mandatory shutdowns.

While the week-over-week increase for the seven-day period ending June 7 was modest, online sales are up dramatically since pre-pandemic days. Signifyd’s latest data shows that ecommerce spending is up 54% in Europe compared to the week of March 2 to March 8, which the Pulse uses as the pre-pandemic benchmark.

And sales in particular verticals are well above the overall increase. Sales in the Home Goods & Decor category are up 261% as of the week ending June 7, compared to the benchmark week. Auto, Parts & Tires has seen a 220% increase in online sales and Leisure & Outdoor is up 75%, according to the latest data. Sales in Grocery & Household Goods, which during the pandemic saw tremendous spikes in online sales and where demand often outstripped the availability of delivery slots, are up 56%,

In fact, of the 12 categories that the Signifyd Pulse regularly tracks, all but two are enjoying higher sales now than they were in the days before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Business Supplies online sales are down 12% compared to the first week of March, perhaps because many businesses and offices closed for extended periods. Beauty & Cosmetics are also lagging behind their pre-pandemic ecommerce sales, down 7%. It’s possible that the category’s products were not as much of a focus in a time when many people were primarily staying home.

Beauty & Cosmetics also had a tough week, according to the latest data, with online sales dropping 27% compared to the previous week. And Business Supplies saw sales plummet 33% week over week.

The next known event that could significantly affect ecommerce sales in Europe is the opening of non-essential retail in England on June 15. One school of thought assumes that in-store sales will erode the growth that ecommerce has experienced in the time of COVID-19. And while that’s not an unreasonable assumption, it’s hard to know, given that in-store shopping will come with queues to enter stores, social distancing and sanitation procedures that are likely to create a different sort of shopping experience.

Helen Dickinson, OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said retailers and others will just have to wait and see how things go.

“While the month showed record growth in online sales, many retailers will be anxious to see whether demand returns to our high streets when non-essential shops reopen from 15th June,” Dickinson said in a statement distributed by the BRC. “Weak consumer confidence and social distancing rules are likely to hold back sales.”

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].