The UK saw a massive rise in online spending during the COVID-19 pandemic, registering the highest percentage of online shoppers in MasterCard’s latest annual report.
From January through September of 2021, over 26% of all retail shopping was done online, with March registering a high of 30%. These numbers only dropped in September after restrictions and vaccine rollouts eased the public as to the safety of in-store purchases. Other European nations such as Germany and Italy also saw rises with peaks in 2020, followed by drops once restrictions began to ease.
Interestingly the US actually saw a decrease towards pre-pandemic levels during 2021, with only 16% of consumers seeking an online means of purchase. This can likely be attributed to both the lack of restrictions in place during 2021 and the perception among Americans that products that can be seen and touched before purchase are superior.
In Asia, Singapore saw the second highest rise with 27% of spending taking place via e-commerce, in contrast to 2020 which saw a huge spike during the early days of the pandemic at over 35%. The UAE also saw a rise during 2020 up to 12%, followed by a drop in 2021 down to 9%.
The pattern of retaining a high proportion of those customers after restrictions were eased seems to be a recurring trend across Asia, as while older generations stick to the tried and true brick and mortar stores, younger consumers are drawn to e-commerce in larger numbers now they know the convenience it provides.
Overall, consumers worldwide currently have more confidence with online purchases than before 2020, with the digital transformations and improvements to e-commerce platforms that were necessary during the pandemic helping along the way. Whether numbers will remain higher than pre-COVID levels or drop is yet to be seen.