We’ve all had to adapt to a new way of life over the last few months, and our shopping habits have unavoidably changed.
Government enforced lockdowns have closed non-essential ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses, driving consumers to shop online and offering a great opportunity for ecommerce retailers.
Our buying behaviours have also changed since lockdown was introduced.
So, what are we buying, which online sectors are thriving, and what opportunities are there?
Food and drink
Perhaps the most obvious sales increase leading up to and during the coronavirus lockdown has been experienced by the food and drink industry.
Supermarkets posted a record March with a 20.6% year-on-year sales increase. However, supermarket internet food sales only grew 0.8% year-on-year as it many hit delivery capacity and couldn’t meet the surge in demand. Ocado, for example, had to suspend online services during peak online demand.
This has created a gap for other online food and drink retailers to fill, with specialist retailers in particular seeing a spike in demand.
Unsurprisingly, the closure of pubs and restaurants has led to a sharp increase in online alcohol orders.
Some ecommerce wine retailers even saw their websites crash as they experienced a sharp spike in traffic. Some breweries that switched from wholesale to direct online delivery are also experiencing high demand, a promising sign for future sales.
Many smaller independent businesses have seized the opportunity that consumers having extra browsing time presents with food specialists and food subscription boxes enjoying an increase in sales.
DIY and gardening
Another clear success story for online sales during the coronavirus crisis can be found with DIY or home and garden improvement items.
Naturally, as we all spend more time at home we’re seeing more room for improvement and online DIY sales increased 14% in the first week of the UK’s lockdown.
Being limited to the same four walls has clearly motivated many, with ecommerce sales in building materials and paint surging year-on-year with increases of 31% and 47% respectively.
Spring (finally!) coming has also driven online sales in gardening supplies, seeds particularly. Large and small online seed retailers have seen demand ‘up to 10 times normal levels.
Some gardening businesses geared towards online sales some have seen a 25% week-on-week increase in sales, including in perishables like plants. For gardening businesses who have had to close physical outlets, switching to selling perishable goods online is one way of reducing wasted stock and lost earnings.
Exercise and fitness equipment / tech
Gym closures and outdoor exercise restrictions inspired by the coronavirus pandemic have sparked a spike in fitness related online sales.
Gym equipment sales have gone through the roof, with larger retailers like as Fitness Superstore imposing minimum spends as demand ‘dwarfs peak Christmas and January trading’.
Share prices in Peloton, the subscription exercise bike and equipment provider, indicate a sharp increase in online sales since coronavirus altered our way of life.
If worldwide trends are anything to go by then Nike’s app performance indicates the strength of online fitness sales. The home workout app’s activity increased 80% in China and has risen worldwide as people turn to tech to keep fit at home.
Not only has the demand for indoor exercise equipment gone up, but online sales of bikes have increased as people make the most of quieter roads and their one form of outdoor exercise a day.
The lockdown has also created a boom in game sales, both online and offline.
UK digital game sales during the first week of social distancing jumped 67% week-on-week, and there was a record 20 million steam users online at once in mid-March.
Console sales have also jumped, as have the sales of more traditional board games and family activities.
With school out for the summer – and potentially longer – game sales are likely to remain strong for the foreseeable future.
Online subscriptions and services
As the coronavirus crisis drags on and boredom affects more and more people, online subscription services are thriving. Demand for home entertainment for both adults and children is expected to last throughout the lockdown.
Streaming services such as Netflix and Now TV have contributed to over 12% growth in digital content subscriptions, and online classes, like Joe Wick’s PE lessons, are drawing millions of viewers.
Music streaming has seen an increase too, as has traffic to news sites. Subscriptions to online and physical publications are also rising as people look for ways to not only stay abreast of the latest developments but escape from them as well.
If you work in ecommerce and sell products connected to any of these sectors, now is the time to bring them to the forefront.
Consider boosting your advertising budget, refining product descriptions and running incentives to bolster your sales during lockdown.
People are also spending more time on social media, so targeted adverts on platforms like Facebook and Instagram could reap rewards.
This is an uncertain and difficult time for many businesses, but there are opportunities for online sellers.
Additionally, if you have FX requirements we can help you maximise your returns and protect your profit.
Get in touch with our team on Business@currenciesdirect.com or call +44 (0) 20 7847 9400.
We wish you all well during this difficult period – stay safe, and please contact us if you need us.
Currencies Direct is one of Europe's leading non-bank providers of currency exchange and international payment services. Since we were formed in 1996, we've maintained our focus on providing innovative foreign exchange and international currency transfer services to corporations of all sizes, online sellers and private individuals. We have also expanded our services to provide dynamic and pioneering "business to business" solutions to help companies, tier 2/3 banks and other non-bank financial institutions to process their international payments. Our headquarters are in the City of London (United Kingdom) and we have operations in continental Europe, Africa, Asia, and the United States. Currencies Direct is jointly owned by private equity firms Palamon Capital Partners and Corsair Capital.