Consumers increase online purchases in April and online loyalty stays high

In last week’s blog post we forecast how Dutch, German and Norwegian consumers will shop in May. But this week, we look back and focus on how consumers shop until May – so, in April. How much has e-commerce grown in April? What is the impact of key aspects like shopping frequency and loyalty on e-commerce development?

Back in the beginning of April, we looked back in this same manner and reported that the number of e-commerce purchases actually declined in March. But still, 3 in 4 consumers shopped online and the share of online purchases of overall purchases stayed virtually unchanged. This shows that consumers stay loyal to online channels in March, regardless of easing restrictions.

Now, when looking back at April, we see a seasonal ‘spring upturn’ where purchases increase again. And the share of online remains similarly strong. Consumers’ loyalty to online channels continues to show steadfastness, even as more and more restrictions are eased in Dutch, German and Norwegian societies.

The effect of consumers’ increased loyalty becomes clear when we compare e-commerce growth in April 2020 to that of April 2021 – in 2021 e-commerce growth is generally much higher than in 2020.

While this month by month comparison neutralizes seasonality effects, we need to note that the exact impact of the pandemic is complicated to compare and assess – as time passes we enter different phases of the pandemic that each impact consumers in a different way.

The Netherlands: 76% of consumers shop online and 51% of spend is online in April

After a decline in online purchases during Q1, the e-commerce growth rate in the Netherlands increases to +47% in April 2021 (from +39% in March). This growth is mainly driven by existing online shoppers buying more, particularly the Heavy Online Shopper segment - it grows from from 13% to 15% of Dutch consumers. Another driver for e-commerce growth in April is occasional online shoppers’ increased online purchases. Both drivers lift the online shopper base to 76% of Dutch consumers in April (compared to 72% in March).



Looking beyond the fluctuations in online purchase volumes, we also see a long-term online growth trend in share of online spend: this can be defined as the gradual ‘loyalization’ of online shoppers . In September, 39% of Dutch consumers’ total spend was conducted online (and 61% in brick-and-mortar stores). During Peak Season 2020, Dutch consumers online share of total spend increases to 47%. And even though online purchase volumes declined in Q1 of this year, Dutch consumers’ loyalty to the online channel becomes even stronger: the majority (51%) of Dutch consumers’ monthly spend is conducted online in April.

Germany: 81% of consumers shop online and 47% of spend is online in April

In Germany, we see e-commerce growth increase to +31% in April 2021 (from +27% in March). Even though this ‘spring upturn’ in e-commerce purchases is less dramatic in Germany (compared to the Netherlands and Norway), we identify a similar development: e-commerce growth is driven by existing online shoppers buying more. This results in an online shopper base of 81% of German consumers in April (compared to 80% in March).

And also in Germany we identify a long-term online trend in share of online spend: this can be defined as the gradual ‘loyalization’ of online shoppers. In September 2020, 42% of German consumers’ total spend isconducted online (and 58% in brick-and-mortar stores). During Peak Season 2020, German consumers online share of total spend increases to 48%. Following a decline of e-commerce purchases in January through February 2021, German consumers’ loyalty to the online channel stays strong: 47% of total spend is currently conducted online.

Norway: 68% of consumers shop online and 36% of spend is online in April

Just like in the Netherlands and Germany, we see an increase in online purchases in Norway during April. E-commerce grows dramatically, up to +51% in April (from +37% in March). This growth is almost solely driven by existing online shoppers buying more: the Heavy- and Medium Online Shopper segments combined grow from 44% to 46%. Light Online Shoppers (occasional online shoppers) in Norway decline in size. This results in an online shopper base of 68% of Norwegian consumers in April (from 68% in March).

In Norway we also identify a long-term online trend in share of online spend: this can be defined as the gradual ‘loyalization’ of online shoppers. In September, 31% of Norwegian consumers’ total spend was conducted online (and 69% in brick-and-mortar stores). During Peak Season 2020, Norwegian consumers online share of total spend increases to 36%. Following a decline of e-commerce purchases in January through February 2021, Norwegian consumers’ loyalty to the online channel stays strong: 36% of total spend is currently conducted online.

What is next?

Up next is a report on consumers’ demands and satisfaction with merchants performance over the first quarter of 2021. Stay tuned!