Census Bureau: E-commerce has exploded during the pandemic

E-commerce has surged due to the COVID-19 pandemic as people have stayed home and found other ways to shop.

According to an article by Mayumi Brewster published on the US Census Bureau website, “Due to these shifts in consumer behavior, e-commerce has continued to grow and many brands have pivoted their business strategies to stay competitive.”

Brewster is a survey statistician in the Economic Management Division of the Census Bureau.

The data supporting the article comes primarily from the Census Bureau’s Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS).

This survey first published data in 1952 and “now produces national estimates of total annual sales, e-commerce sales, sales taxes, year-end inventory, purchases, total operating income, per capita sales, and gross margins of retail trade in the United States”. companies.”

ARTS began collecting e-commerce data in 1998. That year, sales were $5 billion. Today, e-commerce represents a market of more than 800 billion dollars.

The pandemic has accelerated this growth.

Brewster writes:

According to the latest ARTS 2020 publication, e-commerce sales increased by $244.2 billion or 43% in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, from $571.2 billion in 2019 to $815.4 billion. dollars in 2020.

The effects of the pandemic have been uneven and have affected different retail sectors in different ways.

Here’s how Brewster’s report shows that different US retail sectors have fared in this virtual world:

  • Gas station sales fell from $513.5 billion in 2019 to $428.1 billion in 2020 as trips became unnecessary for many and travel slowed.
  • Bookstore sales grew from $8.9 billion in 2019 to $6.2 billion in 2020.
  • Clothing and clothing accessories store sales fell from $269.5 billion in 2019 to $201.4 billion in 2020 as the need for new clothes and accessories for work or social outings declined.

Brewster’s article outlines some of the ways brick-and-mortar stores are adapting to the world of e-commerce, including special in-store events to attract customers and accept in-store returns of merchandise purchased online.

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