Since the beginning of e-commerce and online shopping, these alternatives to brick and mortar stores have seen a continual rise. While companies had already been consistently seeing less and less physical activity as compared to online, this shift has only been sped up due to health concerns amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. With the health concerns, convenience, and speed of online shopping, the future of brick and mortar locations appears to be on the decline. However, while e-commerce has seen a steady rise since its beginning, “based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the impact of online shopping on total retail sales in the United States is still smaller than many people might think. In the third quarter of 2019, e-commerce accounted for 10.5 percent of total retail sales, the third highest share ever and the highest for a non-holiday quarter.” As of 2000, e-commerce only accounted for 0.8 percent of all retail sales in the United States, and in 2019, that number was up to 10.5 percent. While that percentage seems quite small compared to the appearance of how important online shopping is, “total retail sales include categories such as motor vehicle and parts dealers, gas stations and of course grocery stores where e-commerce plays a very minor role. Excluding such categories, the market research firm comScore puts the share of e-commerce in consumer spending at almost 20 percent” (https://www.statista.com/chart/14011/e-commerce-share-of-total-retail-sales/). While some industries are much more difficult to transfer to online avenues, the ones that are able to do so have seen a huge increase in activity online as opposed to physical store or business locations.
It also can be noted, that rise is seen without the added impact of coronavirus and the health concerns it brings along with it. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, shoppers aged 45 and older accounted for “a 5.8 percent increase in digital purchases among this demographic for 2020, which is equivalent to nearly five million new online shoppers.” That increase is a significant addition to the number of online shoppers of that demographic from before the pandemic. “Before the pandemic, in 2019, consumers age 45 and older only made up 5.1 percent of online shoppers.” This rise seen for this demographic specifically can likely be attributed in part to the higher health risk that comes with an older age bracket. Therefore, a group that once did not account for very much of the e-commerce at all now accounts for quite a bit more as a precaution for their own health and safety. However, this demographic is not the only one who has seen a rise in their online shopping activity, or expect to continue to see a rise, even after the pandemic is over. A study was done “that found 31 percent of U.S. consumers between the ages of 16 and 64 believe they will shop online more often after the pandemic ends. Additionally, the study found that 30 percent of Americans intend to shop in stores less frequently post-coronavirus” (https://www.foxbusiness.com/technology/coronavirus-ecommerce-5m-online-shoppers-age-45?fbclid=IwAR2oyMmAsN1VuEjM2RkWy6DJA3qPEmKsvmh55-WYz3T9IhTT2AP9KopzNBg). Not only has Covid-19 increased the amount of online shopping traffic currently, but it has caused a shift in expected behavior of consumers going forward. This shift will likely have a lasting, permanent impact on culture, retail, and consumer behavior.
An infographic made by The Strawhecker group explores the effect of Covid-19 on eCommerce and retail consumer behaviors. “eCommerce growth has been steady over the past decade, but recent events have sparked an influx of online retail sales. It is estimated that in 2020 the United States will see an 18% increase in eCommerce sales.” The United States alone are expected to account for nearly 17% of sales in global eCommerce throughout 2020. Every industry has seen a rise in it’s revenue from eCommerce, but each to a differing degree. For instance, the grocery industry has seen over a 100 percent raise in its online sales through the month of April alone. This rise in eCommerce will not stop after the pandemic, however. “54% of all global eCommerce sales are projected to occur on mobile devices by 2021”. (The Strawhecker Group). This trend has been apparent for several years, since the origin of eCommerce, and with the aid of Covid-19, it has only been sped up. With the decline of brick and mortar, and the incline of online shopping and revenue, businesses will need to be prepared in order to take on this transition smoothly.