Ecommerce Feeding Off Growth During Pandemic Year, Salesforce Data Shows

A year ago, employees scrambled to find ways to work from home, but for businesses it was a way to reset and reinvent themselves. Many found ecommerce was a way to move forward and stay open during the height of the pandemic.

Some retailers did even better. The Salesforce survey of more than 1 billion shoppers from 40 countries and 22 billion visits across nearly 2,000 ecommerce sites, released Wednesday, shows the digital gains retailers experienced during the pandemic extended their growth into the first quarter of 2021.

Global digital revenue grew by 58% year-over-year (YoY) globally in Q1 2020, driven by 27% in overall online traffic growth, and 31% in the amount of money spent by shoppers per site visit.

“Overall, we view the data as supportive of our constructive views on Amazon, ChannelAdvisor, eBay, PayPal, Pinterest, Shopify, and Wayfair,” wrote Colin Sebastian, senior research analyst at Baird Capital, in a research note published Wednesday.



Digital revenue in the U.S. grew by 45% YoY in Q1, well above pre-pandemic levels and up 43% from Q4 2020. The daily amount spent online in the U.S. peaked for Q1 on March 17, growing 117% YoY.

The Salesforce report says the increase coincided with the payment date for the first batch of stimulus checks distributed to an estimated 90 million Americans.

Online shopping experienced a noticeable spike on March 9, one day before the House passed the American Rescue Plan Act.

Spending continued to increase immediately after the bill’s signing on March 10. It them peaked on March 17 -- about 117% YoY -- as consumers began receiving their stimulus checks. There was another spike on March 24, about 56% YoY, when the second wave of stimulus checks hit. 

The report also lists the product categories with the most and least growth in 2020.

Product categories with the most growth in Q1 YoY: 

  • Sporting goods (101%)
  • Home appliances (96%) 
  • Luxury handbags (95%) 

Product categories with the least growth in Q1 YoY:

  • Active apparel (42%)
  • Home, dining, art & decor (40%) 
  • General handbags & luggage (8%)
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