Tracking consumer inflow during Peak Season: 75-82% of consumers shop online by end of October, thanks in part to increased online loyalty in 2021

Peak Season is here. The online shopper share has further evolved and grown over the past months. But what are the differences between the four countries that we measure? How do Heavy Online Shoppers influence the whole online shopper base? Also, with a world that still experiences a pandemic, we see how staying at home drives shoppers to shopping online versus visiting a physical store. But what else drives consumers into the online shopping field?

This blog is part of a series around Peak Season. Where other blogs look ahead and discuss expectations, the current edition looks back to see how e-commerce has developed over time. In this blog we discuss how the inflow of e-commerce has developed until October 2021. By measuring now and at the end of the season, we can see how successful e-commerce has been in attracting new online shoppers and which shopping frequency segment expands the most, as well as which segment drives the biggest growth.

Are we sparking your interest? Stay with us and continue reading!

Our survey results collected among Dutch, German, Norwegian and UK consumers indicate the following key findings:

With COVID-19 infections on the rise and countries imposing increased restrictions, we can expect e-commerce volumes to be boosted again. Exactly how much is difficult to assess, but we know that this creates an increased inflow of consumers to online shopping.  (New) Online shoppers experience the convenience of purchasing online, and will continue to do so. Experiencing convenience is a key driver to maintaining online shoppers who are loyal to the online channels.   

The Netherlands: 75% of consumers shop online in October 2021, making ~4.2 monthly online purchases

Our survey results show that Dutch consumers shop less in the run-up to Peak Season this year: the average Dutch consumer makes 4.2 monthly online purchases in October 2021, compared to 4.5 in October last year. The reduced shopping frequency in October 2021 leads to a smaller Heavy Online Shopper (10+ online purchases per month) segment compared to October last year: 11% now, compared to 13% then.

But although Dutch consumers make less online purchases, the share of consumers who shop online is the same in 2020 and 2021 (75%). And interestingly, consumers conduct a larger share of their monthly spend online now than in 2020: 46% of consumers’ total spend is conducted online now, compared to 41% in 2020. This development - the gradual ‘loyalization’ to online channels – is a key trend over the past 20 months and an important growth driver for e-commerce in the Netherlands. A lower frequency and lower volumes of the Dutch online shoppers have an impact on the share of the Heavy shoppers in the Netherlands. Heavy shoppers now make up for 13% of the online shoppers, what used to be 11% in October 2020.

Germany: 79% of consumers shop online by October 2021, making ~4.9 monthly online purchases

The average German consumer makes 4.9 monthly online purchases in October 2021 compared to 4.7 in October last year. We also see that the share of consumers who shop online is higher in October 2021 compared to October 2020: 76% now vs. 79% then.

While more German consumers buy online slightly more often in the run-up to Peak Season this year, we also see that the share of Heavy Online Shoppers is similarly high in October 2020 and 2021, at around ~15% of German consumers.

When it comes to share of spend online, we see the gradual ‘loyalization’ to e-commerce also take place in Germany. 44% of German consumers’ total spend is conducted online in October ‘21, compared to 42% last year. A key trend and driving force for the future growth of e-commerce.

Norway: 65% of consumers shop online by October 2021, making ~3.1 monthly online purchases

In Norway, consumers make an average of 3.1 online purchases per month in October 2021 (compared to 3.4 in October 2020). This development is mainly attributable to the fact that less Norwegians shop online in October 2021: 65% now compared to 67% in October 2020. The reduced shopping frequency is also apparent in the decrease of the Heavy Online Shopper segment in Norway, from 8% of consumers in October 2020 to 7% in October 2021.

When it comes to share of spend online, we see the gradual ‘loyalization’ to e-commerce also take place in Norway. 36% of Norwegian consumers’ total spend is conducted online in October ‘21, compared to 32% last year. A key trend and driving force for the future growth of e-commerce in Norway.

United Kingdom: 82% of consumers shop online by October and 55% of spend is online

As the peak of peaks has yet to hit, our research – in full swing in the UK only since September 2021 – shows that 82% of British consumers already shop online by October 2021. The average British consumer also buys much more online than his/her Dutch, German and Norwegian counterparts: 5.3 monthly online purchases compared to 4.2, 4.9 and 3.1, respectively. The share of Heavy Online Shoppers is largest in the United Kingdom: 17% compared to 7-15% in the other countries, and the share of monthly spend that is conducted online is significantly higher (55%).

What is next?

Black Week is in full swing. Next week we will update our Santa Gift-o-Meter to see how much of our Christmas shopping we got done so far. Will Black Week and its sales events have a big impact on gift shopping? Stay tuned to find out!