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    The week of March 15 saw the impact of the coronavirus pandemic really hit home across North America, Europe, the United Kingdom, and much of the rest of the world. Governments were forced by the basic math into a difficult decision to ask citizens to ‘shelter in place’, not leave their homes, and to close ‘non-essential’ places of business that lead groups of people to come together.

    Stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and bars among them. This has had a profound and immediate impact on the economy, and of course consumer sentiment. McKinsey released research over the weekend on American consumer sentiment that was taken last week*.

    This shows one-third of Americans already report reduced income, while 48% of Americans are cutting back on spending due to the virus. And well over half are being more careful with their money, spending only in must-have categories.

    I think we can be confident much of the same is true in Europe and the UK. But despite this consumers are moving online for essentials such as groceries, and staples. In McKinsey’s research categories such as apparel, footwear, and jewelry are the biggest losers, though our data does not quite indicate that.

    Bloomreach powers over 20% of US & UK eCommerce search and commerce experiences across the 300+ global enterprise businesses - many of whom have multiple brands and eCommerce sites.

     

    eCommerce Traffic and Sales - Week of March 15-21, 2020

    Below is a view into our data, which tells a story of eCommerce demand across regions and segments:

    What we can see in the data:

    • Grocery eCommerce traffic and search volumes remain unprecedentedly strong across markets, even as we see a slight dip in sales week-over-week. Customers are looking for very specific products, and likely encountering sold-outs, indicated by comparatively lower sales versus traffic volumes. It is not a surprise that online grocery is performing well given the overall environment created by the virus, and remains strong despite logistics and delivery delays.
       
    • Apparel and Luxury had a surprising rebound week-over-week and versus last year. Consumers were spending time shopping these categories looking for specific deals. This was especially true in Luxury, where sales from search were disproportionately high. The most popular search term in Luxury? Tory Burch. I guess we still need to look our best on all those video conference calls.
       
    • In Home, inclusive of DIY/Home-Improvement and home furnishings we see spikes year over year as well, though searches were consistent with top searches in Grocery, indicating these were sources for the same product consumers are actively looking for across the board.
       
    • B2B results show that year-over-year traffic and sales are up, though week-over-week we see a decline. This may reflect the realities of businesses having to adapt to the circumstances. It is also very interesting to see that the top searches are also consistent with overall demand for sanitizers, toilet paper, and other protections as people searched all available sources for these products.
       
    • In Europe and the UK we see an interesting trend of higher traffic and search volumes year-over-year, but a slip in sales. This indicates customers are searching for items that are out of stock or are not yet discounted enough to pull the trigger.  This may reflect also the challenges with supply chain disruption.
       
    • In North America, eCommerce is dramatically up year-over-year across both traffic and sales, and up over last week. This of course is the only channel available to consumers in most parts of the United States and Canada at this point. Search is a key part of the pattern as consumers look for very specific products.
       

    If you have any further questions, I encourage you to reach out here, and we will follow up with you ASAP. We have additional data we are processing and aim to bring you further insights each week as we navigate these challenges together - whether you are a customer or not.

    Thank you and be well. 

    *McKinsey survey data of American consumers collected 3/16-17, 2020

     

    Further Reading

     

    Brian Walker

    Brian Walker

    Brian Walker is a veteran commerce strategy and marketing leader focused on the transformation of digital customer engagement and commerce.

    He has held a wide range of roles across the commerce landscape - from practitioner to analyst to consultant to software strategy and marketing leader - giving him a unique view on the evolving capabilities and approaches necessary for businesses to thrive as digital channels have evolved to become the primary driver for business growth.

    More blog posts by Brian Walker

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