The COVID-19 pandemic boosted U.S. online shopping by $183 billion, according to a new report by Adobe’s e-commerce division. This figure represents the increase in online shopping during the months of March 2020, when the pandemic began in the U.S, through February 2021. During this time, U.S. consumers spent a total of $844 billion online. Meanwhile, $813 billion was spent during the calendar year 2020 alone, up 42% over 2019. To put this $183 billion in perspective, Adobe notes it’s nearly the size of the last holiday shopping season, when $188.2 billion was spent online during the months of November and December 2020. The firm expects this growth to continue in the years ahead, reaching $1 trillion by 2022.
The pandemic has served as an accelerant to many industries, pushing them years ahead of where their natural growth would have otherwise taken them.
E-commerce benefitted from this trend as well, as consumers faced stay-at-home orders, nonessential retailers closed their doors, and in-person shopping was replaced with online commerce for many consumers. Adobe says the pandemic itself produced a “rare step change in online spending, equivalent to a 20% boost,” and noted the impacts will continue even as the pandemic comes to an end in the months to come.
The company’s analysts, for example, noted that the first two months of 2021 (Jan.-Feb. 2021), have already seen consumer spending of $121 billion in the U.S, or a 34% year-over-year increase.
Also during this time, the buy-now-pay-later method for online shopping has jumped up by 215% year over year, with orders that are 18% larger — another factor in the growing sales driven by these changes.