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Coronavirus shifts U.S. online shopping habits

woman wearing mask working on laptop

The continuing outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting two key U.S. e-commerce metrics.

According to data analysis from predictive retail analytics platform Quantum Metric, coronavirus is driving U.S. consumers online. E-commerce retailers based in the U.S. experienced a 52% growth rate in online spending during the fifth to eighth weeks of 2020 (the time period when the virus began rapidly spreading outside of Asia) compared to the same weeks of 2019. These weeks span Jan. 27 – Feb. 23, 2020. 

In addition, online conversion rates rose 8.8% year-over-year during those same weeks in 2020. For the ninth week of 2019 (Feb. 24 – March 1), Quantum Metric data shows a reversal in growth. The company says this trend may indicate the e-commerce spurt may be calming down and reflect spending that has been pulled forward, rather than increased overall.

According to Quantum Metric, consumers may have increased their online shopping because their local stores have run out of stock due to delayed shipments from China, to stockpile items, to avoid busy public places, or to take advantage of direct shipping options for bulk purchases. The company also advises that increased online shopping may not offset reduced in-store traffic for Q1 results. 

However, consumer stockpiling that has occurred could turn into a positive Q1 revenue impact for some types of stores. 

A recent consumer survey from First Insight indicates that as a result of the coronavirus, 21% of respondents say they are shopping more frequently online.

Quantum Metric analyzed 5.5 billion anonymous and aggregated retailer online and mobile visits from U.S.-based consumers from Jan. 1, 2019 through Feb. 29, 2020. 

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