More than 6.6 million Americans lost their jobs last week, driving the number up to 16 million in the past three weeks. But that hasn’t completely stopped many from spending, especially online.
March closed out with a 25% increase in website page views and a 21% year-over-year (YoY) increase for order counts, according to data sourced from the Bazaarvoice network of more than 6,200 brands and retailers worldwide between March 1 and March 31.
Contributing to the upward trend are many things people can do while staying at home or going it alone.
Food, beverage, tobacco, toys and games, and sporting goods were among the categories that saw increases.
Food, beverages, and tobacco saw a 66% increase in page views, up 85% in order count and an 87% increase in review submissions.
Toys and Games rose 90% in page views and a 60% in order count YoY.
Sporting Goods saw a 47% increase in page views and an 86% increase in order count.
The Business and Industrial category, which includes work safety gear and medical products, rose 91% in March.
With work-from-home orders still in place, it’s no surprise that software and office supplies top the list.
Software order count rose 61% and had the highest growth of any category in the number of customer inquiries submitted last month to retailers, up 102%. Office Supplies saw a 90% increase YoY in reviews and a 13% increase in inquiries.
Services such as education, financial services, real estate and travel saw a 31% increase in review count during March. Electronics saw a 14% increase in queries.
While the apparel and accessories category rose 4% in page views during March, the order count fell by 4%.
Most consumers try to purchase products from small businesses. Americans have expressed concern about the harm the pandemic may have on small businesses, non-profits and the economy in general, and they are less troubled about large corporations.
Trevor Thompson, SVP of public affairs and media research at NORC, University of Chicago, said during an ARF virtual town hall presentation.
In fact, 88% of those participating in a survey support funding to small businesses, according to an AP-NORC poll conducted in March.
The data points to downward trends in religious and ceremonial, and luggage and bags. Religious and ceremonial finished March falling 31% in page views and a 32% in order counts. Luggage and bags fell 14% in page views and a 39% in order counts. Apparel and accessories rose 4% in page views during March but the order count fell by 4%.
The biggest question will be whether consumers will resume shopping as they did pre-COVID-19 or adopt their new found online freedom?
Insights gleaned through Influenster, which Bazaarvoice acquired in August 2019 shows that of those respondents, 43% say they will return to shopping how they did before the crisis, while 41% say it's too soon to tell.
These insights are from a member sentiment survey taken by more than 3,000 Influenster community members, there are six million total, to understand how behavior is shifting with shopping. These members read and write reviews, share photos and participate in product discussions to earn rewards.