E-commerce growth takes off in October, as the ‘second wave’ and peak season sales further amplify growth

We have added new research data for the second half of October. Our research now contains responses from over 50.000 consumers in the Netherlands, Germany and Norway over a period of seven months. The long-term online purchase trend shows the same development patterns across all three countries, but with differences in magnitude, and it can be divided into four distinct phases.

The first phase in April/May sees a boom in e-commerce purchases. Our results show that this is driven by restrictions and a virus scare. During this period, e-commerce purchases peak at +32% in Norway, +37% in Germany and at +51% in The Netherlands.

During the second phase, in June and July, restrictions are eased and e-commerce purchases dampen. Consumer motivations also change, convenience replaces being (partially) locked down as the key driver for online purchases.

Going into the vacation period, the third phase of development shows a slight increase of pre-vacation purchases in July, followed by a seasonality low point where e-commerce purchases bottom out during August. At this point, e-commerce purchases are (compared to before the global pandemic) at ±0% in Germany, +5% in Norway and +15% in the Netherlands.

And in the fourth phase – the phase that we are currently in - we see a strong post-vacation recovery of online purchases starting in early September. E-commerce growth continues to increase at a steady pace throughout October. By the end of October, online purchase growth in Norway surpasses the initial peak that we saw in the second half of April, currently at +38% (compared to mid-March). And in Germany and the Netherlands, online purchases are – at the end of October e-commerce - not far behind the first half of May peak in purchases.

Developments per country

When zooming in on e-commerce growth per country we see significant differences that heavily depend on seasonal factors i.e. holidays, (local) virus outbreaks and the enforcing/loosening of various lockdown restrictions.

E-commerce purchases reach a peak in the first half of May (+51%). As restrictions eased and summer holidays start, e-commerce growth reduces slightly and bottoms out to 15% in the second half of August. However, e-commerce growth increases as retsrictions tighten again and is – by the end of October – at +38% (compared to mid-March).

Just like in the Netherlands, German e-commerce purchases reach a peak in the first half of May (+37%). As lockdown measures eased and summer holidays started, e-commerce growth reduces to 0% in the second half of August. However, e-commerce growth increases since restrictions are tightened and is – by the end of October – at +27% (compared to mid-March).

Compared to the Netherlands and Germany, Norway is a slightly different story. E-commerce purchases reached a peak in the second half of April (+32%). As restrictions eased and summer holidays started, e-commerce growth reduced slightly and bottomed out to 5% in the first half of August. However, e-commerce growth has increased again and is - by the end of October – at an all-time high of +38% (compared to mid-March).

What is next?

We will continue to monitor e-commerce developments in the Netherlands, Germany and Norway. As new lockdowns are enforced and as peak season sales are ramping up, the coming period will undoubtedly be characterized by significant changes and developments in e-commerce and its growth. Stay with us!