New survey results on the impact of the second lockdown on e-commerce in Europe


In the context of the second lockdown at the end of 2020, Ecommerce Europe conducted a new survey on the impact of the second lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic on the e-commerce sector in Europe. The survey was addressed to Ecommerce Europe’s national association members and received responses from 19 contributors, highlighting the current situation in different European countries.

Regulatory fragmentation across the Single Market

The respondents elaborated on the effects of the full or partial lockdown they have been experiencing on traditional retail and e-commerce. They identified fragmentation across Europe regarding the classification of essential store categories and regarding the rules for click-and-collect delivery solutions as one of the main issues, resulting in legal uncertainty for businesses and consumers alike. The survey results demonstrate the need for a more harmonised EU approach to ensure the continuous and safe provision of goods during the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide businesses with a level playing field when operating within the Single Market.

Overall positive perception of e-commerce

The survey, furthermore, provides insights on the public and political perception of the e-commerce sector across Europe, with basically all respondents reporting a positive public perception for the sector, and a majority reporting a positive political perception as well. While in some countries there have been objections raised about e-commerce’s negative effect on local brick-and-mortar shops, the survey results and the experiences reported by Ecommerce Europe’s members demonstrate that e-commerce has become a lifeline for many traditional (brick-and-mortar) businesses that had to close, allowing them to continue their activities during the lockdown thanks to the Internet.

Impact of COVID-19 on the e-commerce sector

Despite the strong demand experienced in the e-commerce sector these last months, the survey shows a nuanced image of the impact of COVID-19 on the industry. While many sectors have generally seen increased sales, there is also a significant segment that has experienced a decrease in sales, with some sectors even dealing with a complete lack of sales. For instance, e-commerce services such as travel/online ticket sales experience a decrease in sales between 40% and 70%. The survey report provides further details per sector.

Projections of future growth in 2021

Despite the ongoing pandemic, the majority of the respondents declared to remain hopeful for the future, noting that that the escalation of the digitalisation of businesses in Europe, as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, will result in continuous growth for the industry, which is becoming increasingly omnichannel. According to the survey, the e-commerce sector expects a definitive growth in product sales in 2021 and a possible growth in the sale of services dependent on the severity of the COVID-19 measures.

The Survey Report is accessible at this website.

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