The year is half over and almost any business forecast made early in 2020 is hopelessly out of date. Last February, eMarketer forecast retail sales in 2020 would grow 2.8% to $5.6 trillion. Then the coronavirus pandemic descended upon us and eMarketer revised its projections to a 10.5% decline in total U.S. retail sales to $4.9 trillion, which includes a 14% decrease in brick-and-mortar store sales offset by an 18% rise in e-commerce sales.
It would have been impossible for small business owners to prepare for this scenario, but now that we’re living through it, we should be a little better prepared for the rest of the year. Their US Ecommerce 2020 report eMarketer features new “predictions that reflect the impact of the public health crisis and consider which trends are here to stay.”
Some of their key points:
There’s been a surge in what eMarketer calls click-and-collect, which is buy online, pickup curbside. This lets consumers to make an immediate purchase (as if they were shopping in-store) and get their merchandise with minimum contact. They expect click-and-collect e-commerce sales to hit $58.5 billion this year, up from their original projection of 38.6% growth.
The 18% growth for e-commerce sales “reflects a notable increase in both the number of digital buyers and the average spending per buyer.” This is driven, in part, by consumers new to e-commerce shopping online, “including 12.2% growth for those ages 65 and older.”
Overall, e-commerce sales should reach $709.8 billion, and comprise 14.5% of total U.S. retail sales, which eMarketer says is “both an all-time high and the biggest share increase in a single year.”
The fastest-growing e-commerce categories prior to the onset of COVID-19 were food/beverage and health/personal care/beauty. Now eMarketer has increase their forecast for food and beverage sales from 23.4% to 58.5% and health, personal care and beauty sales from 16.6% to 32.4%.
In some areas, retail stores are reopening, even though the coronavirus continues to impact large swaths of the country. Some consumers will certainly shop in-store, eMarketer expects “certain behaviors like click-and-collect and curbside pickup” to persist be part of a “long-term trajectory of e-commerce growth.”