(3 March 2021)  COVID-19 prompted consumers to change their buying habits in 2020, shifting towards more online purchases. E-commerce lost some momentum by the end of the year, with online holiday spending declining on a seasonally-adjusted basis. However, data provided by Viscacha, showcasing holiday spending at Target, the eighth-largest retailer in the United States, demonstrates that online sales still outperformed in-store sales during the holiday season. The Viscacha data also shows a significant difference in the distribution between online and in-store sales for different product categories.

  • The most prominent product category, toys, represented a significantly higher share of in-store sales than online sales during the holiday season. The top-performing products with the largest in-store footprint relative to online were Instant Pots and air fryers. Although these popular products are available online, their larger form factor may have made physical store purchasing more appealing to many consumers.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau reported that US e-commerce sales declined in the second half of 2020 after adjusting for seasonality. This came after a surge of 30% in the second quarter. December was reported as the worst month in Q4 for non-store retailers (including e-commerce), who saw their seasonally-adjusted sales decrease 6% month-on-month — the biggest drop since 2018.

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