Stuck-at-home consumers are flocking online to shop. Plus, music instruments retailer Sweetwater.com finds that more shoppers are purchasing now that many physical stores temporarily close and Amazon pushed back its shipping guarantee for non-essentials items.

As more consumers are ordered to stay at home and retailers are closing stores during the coronavirus pandemic, many of them are going online to shop.

Grocery retailers are seeing large website traffic spikes during the 28-day period Feb. 25-March 23. Traffic increased 84.5% for the week of March 15-21 compared with the week of March 1-7, according to aggregate data from web measuring firm SimilarWeb Ltd. for the 20 grocery/fresh food retailers Digital Commerce 360 tracks in its Top 1000 database. March 16 had the largest spike in online traffic.

As of March 23, website traffic to grocery retail chain Kroger.com has tripled since Feb. 25, and spiked March 16, according to SimilarWeb data.

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For the three meal-kit retailers that are in the Top 1000—BlueApron.com, SunBasket.com and PurpleCarrot.com—web traffic has also picked up as more restaurants have closed and shoppers need to cook at home from March 12, onward, and spiking March 19.

Jewelry retailers, however, are hurting. Website traffic to the 47 online jewelry retailers in the Top 1000 has steadily decreased since Feb. 25, decreasing 4.2% for the week of March 8-14 compared with the average for March 1-7, and decreasing 20.3% for the week March 15-21 compared with March 8-14.

In total for the 1,000 largest online retailers in North America based on global web sales, which Digital Commerce 360 tracks in its Top 1000 database, online traffic has also increased since the start of the pandemic.

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However, just because more consumers are visiting online retail websites doesn’t mean they’re purchasing. For example, data from digital marketing agency Within finds that sales for web-only retailers are down 54% and conversions are down 43% year over year, as of March 24.

Plus, with news and government directives changing day by day, shopper behavior is not always following a distinct pattern. At web-only musical instruments and accessories retailer Sweetwater Sound, for example, traffic is fluctuating based on the news, says Mike Clem, chief digital officer. When President Donald Trump addressed the nation about the coronavirus pandemic and declared it a national emergency, website traffic to Sweetwater.com dipped from March 11-13. But that dip didn’t last long.

“Starting last week, traffic and sales have roared back,” Clem says. Sales and the number of orders are now higher than usual for this time of year, Clem says without revealing more.

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Two conflicting forces are at play here, Clem says. Shoppers are not purchasing from general fear, but online shopping is growing because of closed stores, he says.

Sweetwater.com is having sale surges especially in states where stores are closed and there are few stores already—such as in the Great Plains—and in states that were hit early with the virus, such as New York, California, Washington and Illinois, Clem says. Sweetwater also is selling a lot more streaming equipment for churches, which were already a large segment of its business.

“AOV [average order value] has dipped a bit because customers are buying small-ticket accessories that previously would have been purchased locally,” Clem says.

What’s more, at the end of March, Amazon.com Inc.’s shipping guarantee for music equipment is about 4 weeks, a far cry from its usual 2-day promise, Clem says.

Sweetwater’s Indiana-based headquarters are closed, with its staff working from home. On its ecommerce site, Sweetwater warns that its warehouse is running at reduced capacity and shipping is slower than usual. The retailer, however, encourages shoppers to still submit customer service questions for technology support, as its employees are online and working from home.

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So far, there have not been any changes in demand for customer service, Clem says.

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