Buy online pick up in store orders and online grocery sales help power a surge in online sales during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new Adobe Analytics data.

U.S. ecommerce sales increased 49% for daily average online sales March 12-April 11, compared with daily average online sales March 1-11, according to Adobe Analytics.

Grocery, alcohol and books are a few of the categories that spurred this online sales surge during the coronavirus pandemic:

  • U.S. online grocery sales increased 110% for daily average online sales March 12-April 11 compared with daily average online sales March 1-11;
  • Online alcohol sales increased 75% March 12-April 21 compared with March 1-11; and
  • Online books sales increased 100% March 12-April 12 compared with March 1-11. All date ranges measure daily average sales.

Date ranges vary by category to account for an inflection point for how COVID-19 impacted purchasing behavior and to show the magnitude of the impact, says Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights.

Adobe Analytics data is based on online sales data from trillions of anonymous visits to retail sites and tens of millions of product SKUs from 80 of the top 100 retailers in the Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000. Data is based on 18 product categories including apparel, electronics, home, grocery, appliance, personal care, office supplies, books, jewelry, furniture and toys, among others.

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Many of these online orders have been purchased for buy online pick up in store, as BOPIS orders increased 208% April 1-20 compared with the year-ago period. The service is a win-win for retailers and consumers as shoppers can get items quickly and in person, and shows no sign of slowing down, Schreiner says.

“Retailers who have buy online pick up in store capabilities are using them to keep consumers coming to their storefronts, maintain engagement with their brands and give their customers an experience that even 1-day shipping cannot replicate,” Schreiner says.

One merchandise category that many analysts have been studying is apparel, as it contributes to a large share of retail spending. In the just-released 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, there are 248 retailers that sell apparel. Meaning, one in four of the Top 1000 retailers based in North America that sell online sell apparel or accessories. Digital Commerce 360 estimates that 34.4% of total U.S. apparel sales in 2018 were online. In 2018, apparel sales were $112.074 billion, which was an 18.5% year-over-year increase.

During the coronavirus pandemic, online apparel sales increased 34% year over year March 12-April 11 compared with March 1-12, according to Adobe Analytics. Comfortable clothes drove this increase, as pajama sales increased 143% while pants sales dropped 13% and jackets dropped 33%.

Prices for apparel dropped 9% in April, which is the largest monthly decline for the category in the past five years, according to Adobe. “Shoppers shifting their baskets to less-expensive types of items like pajamas, combined with retailers offering discounts to move inventory out of temporarily shuttered storefronts, is causing average apparel prices to drop even as overall online clothing shopping surges,” Schreiner says.

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This is in contrast to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s total retail sales that were just released in March. Spending with apparel and accessories stores plummeted 52.0% in March when compared with the same month last year—a huge decrease from February’s performance when the category grew 5.2%.

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