As we approach the end of the roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions and things slowly begin to return to a new normal, we look at the sectors that saw a boom in online sales value.

Impact the pandemic had on shopping habits

It's no secret the great British high street has been on the decline for the last decade, but it appears the pandemic has only accelerated its fate. Last year saw more than 17,500 chain stores closing, including retail giants Topshop, Miss Selfridge, GAP, and even John Lewis and Marks and Spencer. It's no wonder that people turned online to satisfy their shopping needs.

Pre-pandemic, the main reason shoppers chose to purchase certain goods online was because of price. Confined to our homes, we had time during the pandemic to do more shopping around. But we also had more time on our hands, which, in turn, led to an increase in impulse buying. In many cases, shoppers were being heavily influenced by social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok to make these purchases.

It's still too early to see if this new-found impulse for shopping online will stay. One thing that has been noted is that the majority of purchases take place between the 1st - 5th of the month, suggesting that businesses can target their ads during this time to capitalise on these spending habits.

Sectors with greatest growth

Despite not going out and seeing people, consumers were spending more online on clothes, with many savvy companies launching their own loungewear ranges. Unsurprisingly, as we tried to make the most out of staying home, there was a rise in the number of people getting food delivered online from restaurants and fast-food chains.

In addition to clothing and food, digital streaming services also saw a marked increase, whilst understandably, the travel sector saw a huge decline.

There was also a decline in the luxury goods market. This is likely to be because while the ultra-rich can continue to spend regardless of the economy, the luxury sector relies on a wider client base who treat themselves to high-value goods when they can afford it. During times of hardship and recession, people are less likely to make large and aspirational purchases.

How companies can capitalise on the change in consumer behaviour

It's not as simple as physical stores closing that lead to a boom in online sales. The UK has been a world leader in online shopping for some time, with over a third of consumers buying online multiple times a week. Many businesses realised pre-covid that consumers were turning online for a lot of their shopping needs. However, in order to keep up with this new and ongoing demand, online retailers will have to ensure their site is able to keep up with the increase in demand.

Richard Lim, Retail Economics chief executive says, "The new normal will involve a step-change in the integration of digital technologies and retailers are assessing what this means for the number of stores, where they should invest and the potential partnerships that could be formed."

There's no shortage of ecommerce platforms available for businesses to utilise but understanding which one fits the business model is imperative for the success of business growth.

If you're an ecommerce business owner and want to understand how you can capitalise on the change in consumer behaviour further, consider working with an ecommerce agency who have the expertise in platforms like Adobe Commerce to help sustain your growth.