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US Ecommerce Will Rise 18% in 2020 amid the Pandemic

After our February 2020 forecast projected modest growth of 2.8% to $5.621 trillion in total US retail sales, the coronavirus pandemic then took the US economy by storm, causing store closures, stay-at-home orders and declined demand for nonessential goods.

As a result, we now expect there to be a 10.5% decline in total US retail sales this year, with a 14.0% drop in brick-and-mortar sales.

The news isn't dire for all retail channels. Ecommerce is poised to grow 18.0% following a 14.9% gain in 2019, further evidence of the digital shift.

As market volatility and an uncertain end to the pandemic make it harder to predict the long-term growth of retail sales, how can marketers prepare for disruptions to shopping patterns as brick-and-mortar spaces reopen and consumers readopt aspects of their pre-pandemic lifestyle?

In the US Ecommerce 2020 report, we explore new predictions that reflect the impact of the public health crisis and consider which trends are here to stay.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Ecommerce sales have been driven by a surge in click-and-collect, specifically curbside pickup, allowing US consumers to make immediate purchases while minimizing human contact. We now expect US click-and-collect ecommerce sales to grow to $58.52 billion, up 60.4% from our initial forecast of 38.6% growth.
  • Our 18% growth forecast for US ecommerce in 2020 reflects a notable increase in both the number of digital buyers and the average spending per buyer. These gains reflect the pandemic's impact on new buyers joining the online retail space, including 12.2% growth for those ages 65 and older.
  • In a pandemic economy, consumers have gravitated toward trusted and reliable retailers. As a result, we can expect the top 10 ecommerce retail businesses to grow at above average rates (21.8%). Amazon will gain US ecommerce market share this year, while Walmart's accelerating ecommerce growth will take it to the No. 2 position for the first time. 
  • Some of the extreme channel-shifting in Q2 2020 will subside over the course of the year as stores reopen and lockdowns end countrywide. However, certain behaviors like click-and-collect and curbside pickup will persist and suggest a long-term trajectory of ecommerce growth.

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