Online retailers back on course for growth after Corona-related slump – eCommerce Magazine


  • After stagnation in the 1st half of 2020 the increase in sales in e-commerce was 16.5 percent in the second half of the year.
  • With growth of 51.2 percent in the second quarter everyday goods have grown the most.
  • Sales of digital services such as electronic tickets, downloads or hotel bookings has dropped by 71.6 percent due to the corona crisis.

According to the consumer study by the Federal Association of E-Commerce and Mail Order Germany eV (bevh) for the second quarter of 2020, growth in e-commerce was 16.5 percent, after a corona-related stagnation of 1.5 percent in the first quarter of 2020. With an increase of 51.2 percent in the second quarter and 35.7 percent in the first half of 2020, they are Everyday goods such as food, pet supplies, medication or drugstore grew the most.

E-commerce sales rise to EUR 20.22 billion in the second quarter

In the period from April to June 2020, consumers spent € 20.22 billion including sales tax in online retail (2nd quarter 2019: € ​​17.36 billion including VAT). In the entire first half of the year, revenues totaled EUR 36.70 billion, 9.2 percent more than in the same period of the previous year (EUR 33.60 billion including VAT). The digital services such as electronic tickets, downloads, hotel bookings, etc. recorded sales of just 1,364 million euros in the second quarter of 2020 (second quarter of 2019: 4,810 million euros), a drop of 71.6 percent. The effects of the lockdown on travel and cultural events are also extremely hard to see in e-commerce.

“E-commerce has established itself as an additional supply infrastructure in the second quarter. This can be seen not only in the absolute figures, but also in the declared will of consumers to continue to buy at least as many, if not more, everyday goods and medicines online in the future, ”explains Christoph Wenk-Fischer, general manager of the bevh.

E-commerce sales: Increasing interest in online shopping

“In a supplementary survey of around 2,500 consumers, just over every second respondent (54 percent) stated that they would order more online in the future due to their experiences in the Corona crisis. When asked specifically about product groups, 22 percent of those surveyed stated that they wanted to order more food online; only 11.6 percent said they wanted to reduce their online spending here.

Also with regard to Medicines, drugstore products and pet supplies Significantly more respondents expressed the intention to increase their online purchases in the future rather than reduce them. In addition to the goods of daily use, consumers want to spend more money on the Internet rather than less, mainly in clothing and printed or electronic books.

Internet Pure Players in particular benefited from the higher Internet sales, with growth of 13.3 percent in the first half of the year and 20.8 percent in the second quarter of 2020 alone. Revenues on online marketplaces grew by 19.1 percent (quarter) and 12.1 percent (half year) in the same period. In contrast, the online sales of stationary retailers in the second quarter were only able to participate in growth at a below average rate of 4.7 percent; in terms of the half-year, they even lost 1.8 percent compared to the same period in the previous year.

“Even if these numbers are sober, many stationary retailers have started online trading for the first time in a crisis. This increases the chances that multichannel providers will make up ground again in the future, ”reports Christoph Wenk-Fischer.

E-commerce sales: Product group cluster “Daily needs”

Although drugstores and supermarkets, delicatessens and pet and pet supply stores remained open during the Corona crisis, these categories also saw unexpected growth in online retail. Even after the acute phase of “hamster purchases” and also after the end of the sharp corona-related contact restrictions, the demand for goods for daily needs in e-commerce remained significantly increased in the second quarter of 2020, which suggests a permanently positive growth forecast for this segment.

The total volume of the product group cluster increased from April to June by a total of 51.2 percent to a total turnover of 1,888 million euros including VAT (Q2 2019: 1,249 million euros including VAT). The second quarter of 2020 brought that Online grocery a record turnover of 772 million euros (Q2 2019: 407 million euros) and thus growth of 89.4 percent. The sale of drugstore products on the Internet increased by 44.6 percent to 715 million euros (Q2 2019: million euros). Pet supplies increased its growth rate by almost 15.7 percent, almost moderately, and reached EUR 402 million including VAT, after EUR 347 million including VAT in the second quarter of 2019.

E-commerce sales: Product group cluster “Furnishing”

The entire cluster grew by 18.7 percent to 3,041 million euros, driven by strong growth in household goods and appliances (+25.6 percent to 1,339 million euros compared to 1,066 million euros in the second quarter of 2019). The furniture, lamps and decoration category showed sustained high growth potential. Here, online sales in the second quarter of 2020 rose by 13.8 percent to 1,412 million euros (Q2 2019: million euros).

E-commerce sales: “Leisure” product group cluster

The second quarter brought online sales of EUR 862 million to the “DIY and Flowers” ​​category (Q2 2019: EUR 720 million), an increase of 19.7 percent. Hobby and leisure items grew in the second quarter of 2020 by 20.9 percent to 901 million euros (Q2 2019: million euros). The total online sales of the product group cluster rose in the second quarter of 2020 to 2,588 million euros (Q2 2019: 2,209 million euros) by 17.1 percent.

E-commerce sales: Product group cluster “Clothing including shoes”

In the apparel category, the corona crisis led to a significant reluctance to buy in March and only a slight recovery in April. In the second quarter of 2020, the industry recorded growth of 15.3 percent, a significant increase over the previous year. Revenue increased to 3,697 million euros (Q2 2019: million euros including VAT).

However, the slump in sales figures at the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic could not yet be fully compensated for on a half-year basis. The growth in the half-year is 6.4 percent to 6,743 million euros. In the previous year, the clothing sector in e-commerce achieved growth of 14.0 percent in the comparable period to 6,388 million euros at the time.

In the second quarter of 2020, growth for the shoes division was only 4.5 percent compared to the previous year and generated online sales of 1,062 million euros (Q2 2019: 1,015 million euros). The entire cluster “Clothing including shoes” thus reached 4,759 million euros in the second quarter of this year, growth of 12.7 percent (Q2 2019: 4,222 million euros).

E-commerce sales: Product group cluster “entertainment”

The computer, accessories and games product group in the cluster recorded sales of 1,763 million euros in the second quarter of 2020 (Q2 2019: 1,526 million euros) and rose by 15.5 percent. The electronics and telecommunications sector grew by 6.3 percent online and posted sales of € 3,571 million (Q2 2019: € ​​3,359 million). Online sales of books and e-books rose by 6.6 percent to 978 million euros (Q2 2019: 917 million euros). The entire “Entertainment” cluster reached 7,025 million euros, an increase of 9.1 percent compared to the second quarter of 2019 (6,438 million euros).

Strong growth in internet pure players and online marketplaces

In the second quarter, multichannel senders were able to grow almost double-digit to 6,871 million euros due to the strong growth of traditional mail order companies and mail-order pharmacies (10.6 percent) (Q2 2019: 6,251 million euros). The mail-order pharmacies experienced a boom with an increase of 67.1 percent to 267 million euros (Q2 2019: 160 million euros).

Of the multichannel providers, traditional mail order companies grew the most, with an increase of 12.6 percent to 3,666 million euros (Q2 2019: 3,277 million euros). Senders from the stationary business recorded a significantly below-average increase of 4.7 percent. Revenues amounted to 2,818 million euros (Q2 2019: 2,691 million euros).

In the second quarter, “locomotives” of e-commerce were the Internet Pure Players, which generated sales of 3,076 million euros, 20.8 percent more than in the same quarter of the previous year (2,547 million euros). With further growth of 19.1 percent compared to the previous year and a turnover of 9,550 million euros (Q2 2019: 8,020 million euros), the online marketplaces again occupied almost half of the total turnover.

“We see good chances that e-commerce can achieve gross sales of up to 80 billion euros in 2020 despite the corona crisis,” predicts Christoph Wenk-Fischer. For the area of ​​“digital services”, the original forecast as a result of Corona cannot be achieved. For goods and services taken together, the bevh therefore anticipates gross growth well below the originally expected 100 billion euros.

About the study: From January to December, the consumer survey “Interactive Trade in Germany” asked 40,000 private individuals from Germany aged 14 and over about their spending behavior in online and mail order business and their consumption of digital services. The final result of the study will be published in early 2021 after the survey is completed. The figures presented today are based on an evaluation of the months April to June 2020. The study is carried out by the Beyondata GmbH carried out.
Of the Federal Association of E-Commerce and Mail Order Germany e.V. (bevh) is the industry association of online and mail order companies. In addition to the senders, well-known service providers are also affiliated with the bevh. The bevh represents the industry interests of all members vis-à-vis the legislator and institutions from politics and business. In addition, the members’ information on current developments and trends, the organization of mutual exchange of experience and specialist advice are among the tasks of the association.

Also read: Online shop sales in the Corona crisis – difficult development despite a slight upswing