Online shoppers have increasingly turned to such retail products at toys, games and health and beauty products during the pandemic — and have also found more discounts on luxury goods.
That’s according to Q2 Shopping Index released Wednesday by Salesforce. The findings are based on data from Salesforce Commerce Cloud and Tableau’s Covid 19 data hub, and the index is designed to analyze second quarter consumer activity in the following markets: U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Australia/New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands, and the Nordics.
The index is not necessarily predictive. But as retailers wonder how anemic the back-to-school shopping season might be — and what the holidays in a few months will bring — the findings do offer a sense of what consumers are buying, and how they are shopping.
According the Salesforce data, digital retail revenue increased “an unprecedented” 71% year over year in the second quarter of 2020, with significant gains in traffic (37%), conversions (35%) and spend (34%).
Gains were robust for online retailers offering buy online or curbside pickup services — up 127% compared to the same period last year. By contrast — and, perhaps, a warning to retailers hoping to recover from pandemic regression — merchants that have physical stores but did not offer pickup services had revenue gains of only 54%.
The Q2 Shopping Index also found that:
- Year over year global digital spend on essential goods (which includes food, personal care items and more) increased by 154%, compared to a 66% increase in spend for non-essential goods.
- Revenue for Toys & Games grew 181% in Q2 compared to the previous year, and Home Goods grew 134%. Interestingly, Health & Beauty kept pace with 138% growth.
- Global discount rates continued to increase in Q2, jumping 13% year over year to an average of 18%. General apparel merchandise was the most likely to see the highest discounts, averaging 22% throughout the quarter, followed by luxury apparel merchandise (17%).
The big question, of course, is what trends will hold into the second half of 2020 and even 2021. Long-term planning in retail has become short-term improvisation but sooner or later that will have to change to reflect whatever the new normal will be.
Just a few weeks ago, there was evidence that consumers were not yet ready to return to physical retail stores because of fears about the coronavirus. Consumers are certainly getting impatient with staying at home and other aspects of this ongoing pandemic, but a second phase of lockdowns has recently swept across the U.S., which means that this e-commerce growth spurt is likely to continue.
Other signals of what is to come in the last half of the year — at least in normal times — would come from the data Amazon would release about its annual Prime Day, a multiday online marketing even that last year took place in July. This year, it’s not even totally clear yet when Prime Day might happen — October seems to be the latest target.