Loss of sales in online trade

The corona crisis is significantly depressing e-commerce sales. As the German E-Commerce and Mail Order Association (bevh) reports, sales in March 2020 fell by almost 20 percent compared to the same period last year.

The online trade is stagnating. With few exceptions such as food, drugstore goods, medicines and do-it-yourself products. As bevh informed, this wipes out almost all growth in online trade in January and February.

Plus in e-commerce

Between January and March 2020, online trade recorded a slight increase of 1.5 percent. This growth was significantly below the first quarter of 2019 by 11.2 percent. Between January and March 2020, customers bought goods online for a total worth of 16,482 million euros. Growth in the food category was 28.1 percent compared to 2019 and added up to 361 million euros in sales. In the first quarter of 2019 the figure was 282 million euros. In the month of March, the increase was 55.8 percent. In the drugs category, sales rose by 88.2 percent in March alone.

Minus in e-commerce

As recently as January and February, e-commerce revenues were up by 8.8 per cent. An increase of 9.5 percent was recorded in the clothing sector, while consumer electronics remained stable at 8.9 percent and computers and accessories at 9.6 percent. In March, sales slumped by a total of around 18.1 percent. In the area of clothing it was even more than 35 percent. The decline in consumer electronics was 20.9 percent, and 22.7 percent in computers and accessories.
Gero Furchheim, President of the bevh and Spokesman of the Board of Cairo AG, explains: “E-commerce is now a normal shopping channel. This is why such a crisis in consumer sentiment has a full impact on our industry. The assertion that e-commerce will emerge as a winner from the Corona pandemic is simply false. What is true, however, is that the opportunities of e-commerce for supplying customers and the business models of the retail trade are being experienced anew”.

Slow recovery

Nevertheless, there is some hope: the bevh consumer survey showed a slow recovery in demand towards the end of March. However, this will not compensate for the already existing sales losses. “Demand is picking up, and this positive signal must also be fed back into the stationary retail sector. This is why uniform approvals are now needed for contactless “Click & Collect” – the contactless and secure transfer of goods ordered by telephone or on the Internet. This concept could now, in addition to online trading, contribute to the security of supply for the population and the livelihood of stationary shops and must be an essential part of a future exit strategy. Shops are full of goods, and seasonal articles are threatened with a short-term decline in value,” Gero Furchheim notes.

The exact figures for the individual product groups of the clusters leisure, furnishing, clothing including shoes, entertainment, products of daily demand and services can be found here.

Shipper types & order volume

In the first quarter, pharmacy mail order companies grew by 25 percent compared to the previous year and achieved online sales of 200 million euros. In contrast, the online shops of stationary retailers recorded a minus of 9.5 percent. The online marketplaces generated a growth of 4.9 percent compared to the previous year and a total amount of sales of 8,011 million euros.

In the entire interactive trade – which includes both online and traditional mail order – German customers bought goods worth 16,785 million euros in the first quarter of 2020. Online trading accounted for 98.2 percent of this sum. Compared to 2019, it has thus increased by 1.2 percentage points. Around one in three online shoppers now orders several times a week. The order volume via mobile devices in particular has increased significantly. In 2019 as a whole, gross sales of goods in e-commerce amounted to 72.6 billion euros. This corresponds to an increase of 11.6 percent compared to 2018, and total sales in interactive commerce in 2019 amounted to 94 billion euros. The figures for 2020 will be published by the bevh at the beginning of 2021.