ACI Worldwide: Global e-commerce sales skyrocket in April; fraud up over last year

Marianne Wilson
Marianne Wilson profile picture

The COVID-19 crisis continued to drive global e-commerce sales in April.

Sales in the general retail sector rose 209% in April compared to the same period last year, according to an analysis by ACI Worldwide of hundreds of millions of e-commerce transactions from global online retailers. Following general retail, the gaming segment saw the biggest bump, up 126% in April.

The increase in online sales included average transaction volume growth of 23.5% in April versus the same period last year. By comparison, there was a 5.3% increase in March 2020, when lockdowns first came into effect.

“Trends in e-commerce purchasing behaviors that we began to see in March have continued in April, as hundreds of millions of consumers around the world adapt to the restrictions put in place to inhibit the spread of the coronavirus,” said Debbie Guerra, executive VP, ACI Worldwide. “Consumers are increasingly making use of click-and-collect options because of convenience and safety—but these changing patterns also attract fraudsters, resulting in a significant uptick in attempted fraud.”

Fraud attempt rates reached 4.3% in April, slightly down from 5.3% in March, but still up from 3.8% compared to this time last year. Attempted fraud is focused on segments that have seen high sales growth, such as consumer electronics, with the average ticket price of attempted fraud up $26. 

Click-and-collect—or buy online, pick-up in store—also accounted for a rise in attempted fraud. The transactional value of attempted fraud rose by 9.9%, reflecting fraudsters’ continued emphasis on popular high-value items including laptops and TVs.

Other fraud trends noted in the report are below.
•    Chargebacks for non-fraudulent reasons (i.e., “friendly fraud”) have risen by 25% through the end of March as merchants face challenges in processing refunds, staffing call centers or delivering services. 

•    Average fraudulent attempted purchase value increased by $26 in April, driven by electronic purchases and increases in click-and-collect. This corresponds to a fraudulent attempted transactional value increase of 9.9%. The average value of genuine purchases sank by $21.

•    Fraud attempt rate rose 1.6% points in April 2020 to reach 5.3%, up from 3.7% in April 2019.