It seems like the initial impact of the pandemic in Europe is now behind us. Where consumers’ first reaction was to stockpile, it now looks like consumers in The Netherlands, Germany and Norway understand the longevity of the situation.
Our previous blog posts have shown that in the last two weeks of March, consumers turned to the easiest form of distraction: food and entertainment. The new wave of data now reveals that, going into April, consumers also inevitably needed some variation in passing time at home. As a result, they got up off the couch and started consuming more physical experiences.
Where certain categories saw an initial dip in online purchases, our second wave of data shows that these categories now make a – sometimes impressive – recovery. Additionally, we see clear patterns in The Netherlands, Germany and Europe, as well as apparent differences. A clear conclusion for all countries is that consumers are slowly but surely adjusting to life with corona.
The overall growth in online purchases in Norway is largely driven by heavy (>100%) increases of purchases within Take away food, Toys and Food/groceries. Interesting in Norway is that Fashion never really experienced a decrease in purchases directly following the corona outbreak. Instead, Fashion is a category that has stayed strong throughout the pandemic. The same goes for Toys, Hobby articles and Home decor/furniture.
In contrast to Norway, the growth in number of e-commerce purchases in The Netherlands is driven by a large number of categories. Directly following the corona outbreak, Dutch consumers did not reduce online purchases across many categories in the same Germans and Norwegians did.
Compared to Norway and the Netherlands, consumers in Germany have increased e-commerce purchases moderately at +15% overall growth with Hardware/building materials and Food/groceries showing the strongest growth in terms of number of purchases.
Looking at The Netherlands, Germany and Norway, and the amount of e-commerce purchase since the beginning of the corona outbreak, we see a consecutive increase in number of purchases for the categories Food/groceries, Take away food, Health/Health food products and Media/Entertainments. For Tickets and Travel and transport, we see a continuous decrease in purchases. Consumers immediately started to purchase less and they have continued to decrease purchases even further in the past two weeks.
In all countries, the product categories Fashion, Beauty/Cosmetics, Toys, Hobby articles and Kitchen appliances took quite a hit during the initial impact of the corona outbreak. However, these categories have made an impressive recovery, as the amount of purchases is even higher than before the corona outbreak.
With Research Wave 2 added to our dataset, we can now conclude that the initial impact of the pandemic particularly resulted in consumers avoiding travelling and out-of-home entertainment as well as meeting other people. For most consumers, staying at home meant bringing both food and entertainment to their own living rooms instead. And now - as consumers understand the longevity of the pandemic – they have re-evaluated their wants and needs.
As a result, consumers have started making online purchases in categories in which they initially reduced e-commerce purchases, in order to satisfy a secondary set of needs. Consumers’ e-commerce purchases have therefore moved from the initial phase of mainly consuming food, groceries and media, to a more normal state in which consumers choose more varied products and experiences.
Consumers’ e-commerce purchases are on the rise, and that implicates higher demands on merchants. Find out more on what merchants can do to adapt to these changes in our next blog post.