What is Actually happening in online retail during COVID-19?

The general perception is that online retail has increased during the last few months during the Coronavirus Pandemic. It feels like everyone is trying to buy groceries online especially so when you realise that there is no delivery slot to your area for two weeks. There is very little option for purchasing clothes anywhere else which is becoming more and more necessary as the seasons change to what seems to be a very hot summer in the northern hemisphere and a cold winter in the southern. But what is really happening, it is always useful for online sales management service in the UK and indeed anyone associated with e-commerce to know what has changed in online retail and to what extent people have deliberately purchased products through online platforms instead of offline specifically during the coronavirus pandemic.


Statista has been conducting a daily coronavirus pandemic survey which can assist in giving us a snapshot of how patterns of online purchasing have changed in the UK. The specific question that was asked was “Have you deliberately purchased any of these products or services online instead of offline because of the COVID-19 / coronavirus pandemic?” So, this provides insights to offline sales management services and online sales management services in the UK on the extent to which purchasing behavior has changed. This data does not include those people who were already purchasing these items online so what this points towards is the potential growth in online purchasing platforms.

Source: Statista 2020

In the UK people who chose to change from online to offline purchasing did so mostly for their grocery shopping needs, there was a 32% increase in people using online platforms to fulfil their shopping needs. Therefore, more people feel comfortable choosing online options for food and drink delivery rather than going into shops. Going online for clothing, restaurant deliveries and hygiene products all saw a more than 20% increase.


Selected Country Comparison on UK top 5 Offline/Online Product Change




Food and Drink Delivery




I have not shifted from offline to online purchasing








Restaurant Delivery/Takeaway




Hygiene Products




Source: Statista 2020

The choice of people to change from offline to online purchasing differs slightly across the globe. If the UK experience is compared to the USA and Germany then people in the UK are more likely to change their patterns particularly when compared to those in Germany, with 43% saying that they did not deliberately change to online shopping. More people in the UK also chose to change to online options for groceries than in the other comparison countries but those in the USA are more likely to change their purchasing patterns for takeaway food deliveries. The deliberate change to online clothing purchasing is similar across the comparison probably due to the similarity in the majority of clothing shops being closed.


What will be interesting for any sales enablement companies in the UK is whether these new customers to online platforms can be retained and whether the converts will continue to deliberately choose to shop online, a lot of this will depend on the strategies of e-commerce businesses. The question that people will need to answer is whether the experience of shopping online is preferred to be going into a shop with all the new normal rigmarole. Especially when it comes to those areas which have seen the most growth in the UK such as groceries, clothing and takeaways. It is interesting to note that 32% of people had deliberately made the decision not to change to online shopping and continued to do so offline, which means that they are either delaying their purchasing until all shops open or do not have the ability, skills or resources to access online shopping. There is a definite trend of people changing their shopping habits; from going into a shop to an online click and purchase experience.


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