retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The US Census Bureau has published new data saying that "Americans spent $791.7 billion during 2020 on e-commerce, up 32.4% from 2019 … That behavior translated to e-commerce accounting for 14% of total retail sales, compared to 11% in 2019," CNBC reports.

To put the numbers in context, total 2020 retail sales were up just three percent … meaning that e-commerce sales were up more than 10 times as much as total sales.

CNBC writes:  "While consumers shopped online before the pandemic, they were pushed to rely on digital retailers even more during the Covid-19 pandemic, as many physical stores were closed and people opted to stay indoors as much as possible to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

"Consumers filled up their virtual shopping carts with products that they might not have otherwise ordered online, particularly groceries, according to a chart published by the U.S. Census Bureau. Online purchases of food and beverage items grew more year-over-year than any other category between the second and fourth quarter of 2020."

KC's View:

The question is the degree to which these habits will persist post-pandemic.  I'm pretty sure that there may be some backing off as people embrace the idea that they can go to stores without putting their health at risk, but a lot of folks will quickly realize that e-commerce gives them time back in their days that can be used for things more rewarding than shopping.