COVID-19 Weekly Pulse Report for
Ecommerce in Europe
Your source for data on rapidly changing industry trends in the time of Coronavirus
Ecommerce Sales Trends Analysis in Europe
Weekly Change by Vertical
Fraud Pressure Index
July 14, 2020
Ecommerce spending remains strong in Europe despite short-term ups and downs
Ecommerce sales cooled in Europe during the week ending July 12, though online spending remained at a level considerably higher than it was before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overall ecommerce spending for the seven-day period just ended was 19% higher than our benchmark pre-pandemic week, according to Signifyd Ecommerce Pulse data. The figure was the bright spot this week for retailers who are looking for good news.
It was also an indication of the fundamental strength of online shopping when many consumers are concerned about venturing out to shop in stores at a time when there is no vaccine to slow the spread of the coronavirus and no specific treatment for the disease it causes.
Week-over-week spending presented a gloomier picture, with overall online sales down 35%, all but reversing last week’s 40% gain. Few commerce verticals were spared with week-over-week losses in Luxury Goods hitting 84%, Beauty & Cosmetics down 30%, Fashion & Apparel falling 20% and Home Goods & Decor slipping 18%.
In fact, of the dozen categories the Ecommerce Pulse follows closely, only one had a positive week. Consumer Medical Supplies & Supplements sales were up 5% for the week.
As consumers have settled into a “for-now normal” way of life, we have seen more of a sawtooth pattern when it comes to weekly shifts in spending. Sales have been down week-over-week three of the last five weeks, but the ups and downs have alternated, meaning we are not seeing a steady, downward slide.
For their part, retailers have turned to e-commerce as a savior — first during the lockdown and now that non-essential stores are reopening, but with social distancing and other restrictions in place. All of this is evidenced not so much in the week-to-week gyrations, but in the cumulative changes in ecommerce spending.
Pulse data shows that since the first week of March, shortly before the World Health Organization declared the pandemic, ecommerce spending has exploded in certain commerce verticals. Online sales in Home Goods & Decor is up 130% compared to early March. Auto, Parts & Tires ecommerce spending has increased 120%. Grocery buying online is up 37%, Consumer Medical Supplies & Supplements is 30% higher than pre-pandemic and Leisure & Outdoor is tracking 20% above early March.
Signifyd’s data has also uncovered another trend — this one involving fraudulent activity. The Auto, Parts & Tires and the Home Goods & Decor verticals — both among the top performing verticals — have been fairly consistent fraud targets, according to the Signifyd Fraud Pressure Index. Home goods is seeing a 245% increase in fraud pressure compared to pre-pandemic days. Auto Parts and Tires are not far behind, at a 231% increase.
Signifyd’s Fraud Pressure Index represents the rise and fall of orders on the Commerce Network that our machine-learning system, based on thousands of signals, determines are at very high risk of being fraudulent.
Photo by Getty Images
July 8, 2020
Ecommerce spending continues to increase at a torrid pace
Despite the shifting landscape of retail in the age of the coronavirus, ecommerce spending continues to outperform its pre-pandemic pace.
In fact, during the week ending July 5, online spending in Europe was up 85% compared to early March, according to Signifyd’s Ecommerce Pulse data. We use early March as a benchmark because it was just before the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic.
Online shopping naturally took off once stay-at-home orders were in place and non-essential brick-and-mortar stores closed their doors to shoppers. But online sales remain strong, now four months into the health crisis, and weeks after many stores reopened, including in the UK.
Online spending in Europe was up 40% week over week, according to Signifyd’s Pulse data. Nearly all of the retail verticals tracked by the Pulse did their part to push online spending skyward.
The increase in ecommerce sales is some good news for retailers, who remain concerned about the outlook for their industry as a whole. The Guardian recently described retailers as “gloomy” about the chances of a quick recovery from the COVID-19 lockdown.
Citing the Confederation of British Industry, the publication said that only 21% of retailers expected July 2020 to be a better month than July 2019. Conversely, 68% of retailers said they expected lower July sales. Many also expressed concern that they’d have trouble getting staff back to work if schools don’t open, meaning children will require supervision at home during the day.
Ecommerce sales hit a trough in mid-June, coinciding with the opening up of brick-and-mortar stores in England and elsewhere, but they appear to have shaken that off as we move into July.
A number of verticals remain well above their pre-pandemic sales levels. Auto, Parts & Tires sales are up 124% roughly since the pandemic was declared, despite slipping 36% week over week. Home Goods & Decor is up 181% compared to the last week of February, even though sales fell 2% week over week.
For its part, the Grocery & Household Goods category is seeing sales 61% higher than pre-pandemic days and Leisure & Outdoor sales are up 42%.
July 1, 2020
Ecommerce continues to be a bright spot for retailers across Europe
With physical stores across Europe opening up, ecommerce sales appear to be settling into a somewhat normal pattern in which sales fluctuations are driven by seasons, life events and promotions rather than panic, available inventory and the need to stay home and avoid crowds.
Ecommerce sales across Europe were tracking 32% higher than they were leading up to the pandemic, Signifyd Ecommerce Pulse data for the week ending June 28 shows. Some retail verticals are still registering blow-out numbers as the pandemic moves well into its fourth month.
Auto, Parts & Tires sales were up 250% for the seven-day period ending June 21, compared to the beginning of March, before the World Health Organization declared a pandemic. Home Goods & Decor is up 148%, Grocery & Household Goods is up 64% and Leisure & Outdoor is up 22%.
Interestingly, sales in the Business Supplies category are up 182% after a number of bad weeks scattered throughout the early part of the pandemic. The story recently has been quite the opposite, with week-over-week sales in Business Supplies up 174%. That comes after recent weeks that saw spending week-over-week in the category increase 59% and 122%.
It could be a tangible sign that businesses are beginning to open up again.
On the negative side, Electronics, General Merchandise, Leisure & Outdoor, Luxury Goods and Alcohol, Tobacco & Cannabis all saw online sales fall week over week in double-digit percentages or in numbers approaching double-digit percentages.
Still, only General Merchandise and Alcohol, Tobacco & Cannabis saw sales for the week that were lower than their pre-pandemic sales.
Ecommerce has been a bright spot for retail as the pandemic stretches on. In general, retailers who depend on brick-and-mortar sales or a combination of online and in-store sales have had little to cheer about. The Confederation of British Industry, for instance, released a report recently that painted a gloomy picture of retailers’ outlook in the UK.
Nearly 70% of retailers surveyed by the CBI said they expected businesses to be worse in July than it was a year ago, according to The Guardian. Nearly two-thirds said a lack of demand from consumers would be a major problem. Another 61% cited as a major concern workforce absences due to the fact that children wouldn’t be returning to school.
“With high street shops, department stores and shopping centers reopening across England last week amid some scenes of long queues, you’d be forgiven for thinking retailers’ difficulties are coming to an end,” said Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI’s chief economist, “but the health of the retail sector remains in the balance.”
June 24, 2020
Ecommerce sales see short-term drop as physical stores open in England
Ecommerce sales in Europe dropped 54% week-over-week at the same time non-essential retail was given the OK to open in England, according to Signifyd’s latest Ecommerce Pulse data.
While it’s not possible to directly connect one to the other, The Guardian reported that in-store footfall during the week starting June 15 was up 45% over the previous week. Several outlets reported that British consumers exhibited a lot of pent-up demand for in-store shopping.
“There were also big queues outside the Nike store in Central London, although some complained there had been a lack of social distancing,” the BBC reported the day non-essential stores opened after being closed for three months. “In Manchester people waited for almost an hour outside Primark, TK Maxx and Foot Locker, although elsewhere demand was more subdued.”
It should also be noted that as enthusiastically as those who embraced in-store shopping embraced it, the number of shoppers out and about was nothing close to a normal pre-pandemic shopping day. In fact, The Guardian reported that footfall for reopening week was 54% below what it was the same week in 2019.
Though it seems the COVID-19 pandemic has been going on forever, it is still far too early to draw conclusions about shoppers’ behavior and how habits formed in the time of lockdowns and social distancing will affect the future of retail. Many have speculated that ecommerce is being propelled years into the future in terms of adoption.
Indeed, even with the 54% drop in online sales for the week ending June 21, overall ecommerce sales in Europe for the week were 35% higher than they were the first week of March, which we use as a pre-pandemic benchmark.
The most recent week did see some significant swings in some key retail verticals, according to the latest Pulse data. Sales in Business Supplies were up 59% week over week, a sign that shops and offices are opening up or planning to open up soon.
No other category came close on the upside, though Beauty & Cosmetics sales were up a respectable 13% week over week and Grocery & Household Goods were up 12%.
A number of categories endured rough weeks. Home Goods & Decor spending fell 29% week over week. The vertical has been a solid performer throughout the pandemic, as many consumers became much better acquainted with their homes. In fact, sales in the Home Goods & Decor vertical are up 162% over the pre-pandemic benchmark week.
Consumer Medical Supplies & Supplements was down 20% for the week, while both the General Merchandise and the Electronics categories fell 13% for the week.
It will remain interesting to watch the numbers in order to determine whether the opening of non-essential physical stores will have an effect on online sales. The Guardian, in its story about stores reopening in England, noted that footfall figures would have been higher in the UK, but that non-essential stores in Scotland and Wales had not yet opened.
“We anticipate an additional uplift to come when retail in these areas of the UK also reopens and the hospitality and entertainment industry is given the green light to resume trading in the coming weeks,” Diane Wehrle, of retail analytics company Springboard, told the Guardian.
Or it could be we find we’ve moved deeper into a genuine omnichannel world — one in which rather than take shoppers from each other, in-store and online commerce opportunities bring shoppers to one another.
June 17, 2020
Ecommerce continues to grow as more retail channels open across Europe
Overall ecommerce spending in Europe continued to move up and to the right in the week just ended, Signifyd’s Ecommerce Pulse data shows, despite a loosening of shelter-in-place rules that is leading to more physical retail opportunities.
Online spending in Europe for the week ending June 14 was 193% higher than it was during the first week of March, which we use as a pre-pandemic benchmark. The shift to buying online was a result of shelter-in-place orders and temporary closing of stores throughout Europe.
Now the question becomes: How much of that shift will remain in place as more non-essential stores open up and welcome foot traffic. And that traffic will be welcome, indeed. Footfall in for May was down 73.3% in the UK, according to Springboard, a firm that gathers customer-activity data.
The truth is that online sales and in-store sales don’t necessarily compete with each other. In an omnichannel world, where shoppers are free to move about as they please, the two forms of shopping can complement and accelerate each other.
And given the very different experiences brick-and-mortar stores will have to provide in order to keep their staffs and customers both healthy and at-ease, it will no doubt take some time to understand how the availability of physical retail will affect online spending.
As it is, overall ecommerce spending for the week ending June 14 finished up 19% from the previous week. Most of the retail verticals moved up or down moderately for the week. Only Auto, Parts & Tires experienced a double-digit change, exhibiting 11% growth. The category has been a sterling performer with sales now 256% higher for the most recent week than they were during the benchmark week.
Fashion, Apparel & Luggage was notable for its 6% increase in sales week-over-week after suffering two straight weeks of falling sales. The vertical now finds its sales 30% higher than they were at the beginning of March.
Electronics, which saw sales rise 4%, Home Goods & Decor, which increased 6% and Beauty & Cosmetics, up 1%, rounded out the list of categories that moved in a positive direction for the week.
On the flip side, online sales of Business Supplies and Alcohol, Tobacco & Cannabis were both down more than 20% week over week. Sales of Business Supplies have been pummeled by the pandemic, now tracking 35% below where they were on a weekly basis before the pandemic. Alcohol, Tobacco & Cannabis, on the other hand, is still seeing sales 13% higher than what the category was experiencing at the beginning of March.
Consumer Medical Supplies & Supplements was also down week over week, dropping 12%. Sales in the category remain 47% higher than they were in early March.
June 10, 2020
Europe sees scattered ecommerce growth; awaits store openings in England
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.”
June 3, 2020
As consumers search for their new normal, ecommerce sales rise and fall
With European economies and businesses continuing to open up, the wild ups-and-downs in ecommerce spending by vertical appear to be calming down, but online sales remain well above pre-pandemic levels.
Overall, ecommerce sales were up 50% in the most recent week over spending the last week of February, which serves as a pre-pandemic benchmark. Initially, the higher sales were driven by stay-at-home orders and store closures, which made shopping any other way difficult, if not impossible.
More recently, another factor could be coming into play: Consumers who had not shopped online before, or who had not shopped online for certain items before, are sticking with habits formed during their lockdown.
The consumer behavior changes have left some ecommerce sectors seeing sales far beyond what was typical before the onset of COVID-19. Auto, Parts & Tires sales, for instance, were running 262% higher during the week that ended May 31, than they were at the end of February.
The evolution of those sales tell its own story. Early in the shelter-at-home period, sales in the category were fairly anemic. Then, about the second week of April, they began to take off, rising 34% the week ending April 12. Sales from then on moved in a line straight up, increasing weekly.
Alcohol, Tobacco & Cannabis sales provided their own twist on the story. They also were somewhat flat before taking off, though they took off earlier — the seven-day period ending March 22. They also climbed nearly straight up. But sales in the category dropped precipitously, beginning the week of April 20 — before enjoying a V-shaped recovery, as the economists say, accounting for sales in the category being up 59% overall compared to late February.
On a week-over-week basis, there were a few pieces of data of note. Luxury ended a solid two-week run in which sales were up 51% and then 14%. Spending in the category ended the most recent week down 19%. Still, the sector is up 8% for the entire Ecommerce Pulse period.
Medical Supplies & Supplements was also down 19% for the week, following a previous week, which was also brutal. The category was down 36% for the week ending May 24. Overall, however, the category finds itself up 26% over the February benchmark.
Ecommerce spending in Europe could continue to be choppy — up and down by vertical — as economies find their own ways when it comes to opening up. One of the next big tests for the sustainability of the large ecommerce increases will come June 15.
That’s when non-essential stores in the UK are allowed to open.
May 27, 2020
Ecommerce sales exhibit continuing strength in Europe
Ecommerce sales continued to provide a few bright spots for retail in Europe, where in-store spending has been devastated by stay-at-home orders and the temporary closure of brick-and-mortar stores.
Overall, ecommerce sales in Europe were up 96% last week compared to the last week of February, which serves as a pre-pandemic benchmark. In fact, more than half of the retail verticals that the Ecommerce Pulse regularly tracks were up week over week for the seven-day period ending May 24.
Luxury goods continued to show strength, up 14% for the week, though not the same strength that resulted in a 51% rise in sales the previous week.
Fashion, Apparel & Luggage showed its first week of increased sales since the last week of April. Though sales were up only 5%, the positive weekly change was only the fourth up week since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11.
In fact, three categories — Leisure & Outdoor, Grocery & Household Goods, and Alcohol, Tobacco & Cannabis — all reversed negative weeks by reporting week-over-week increases in sales for the period ending May 24. Leisure & Outdoor and Grocery & Household Goods were each up 8%. Alcohol, Tobacco and Cannabis sales increased 12% after falling 16% the previous week.
Consumer Medical Supplies & Supplements experienced the biggest turnaround and not for the better. After experiencing a 36% increase in sales in the week of May 11, the category reversed course last week with sales dropping by 36%.
Besides medical supplies, the hardest hit verticals last week included Business Supplies, down 22%, and Beauty & Cosmetics, which plunged 16% after seeing a 21% increase in sales the previous week. The Electronics category was also down 16% for the week just ended.
May 20, 2020
Ecommerce remains a bright spot for retail in EMEA
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.
The Latest on Better Ecommerce for EMEA
Want to take a deeper dive?
The Ecommerce Pulse Report from Signifyd was designed to provide ongoing coverage of changes and trends in the ecommerce landscape during the COVID-19 pandemic. The data in this report illustrates how ecommerce verticals are performing now in comparison to the pre-COVID benchmark period. Data is aggregated by category across 10,000+ ecommerce merchants globally.