Coronavirus outbreak leads to varied turnover for online retailers, the sector could play vital role during lockdown

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The current Coronavirus outbreak is causing extreme effects in online consumer spending. The crisis will put severe pressure on online sales this year, notably due to significantly lower online fashion spending and the lack of travel and holiday bookings. “Online shops can, however, play a vital role in the undesirable scenario of a total EU-wide lockdown in the near future.” said Wijnand Jongen, President of Ecommerce Europe and CEO of Thuiswinkel.org, the Dutch e-commerce association.

Impact of being at home on specific sectors

The constraints that consumers face are currently driving significant growth in segments such as food and drink, health and grooming products, and products that contribute to working from home, home education (laptops, tablets, screens, cables, office chairs, etc.) and being at home (freezers, etc.). Segments such as sports equipment, do-it-yourself products and sports equipment show double-digit growth. Thus far, online marketplaces seem to be doing well in this initial time of global crisis, as witnessed by the number of requests from sellers to join these platforms. Sectors such as fashion and shoes are hit hard, in the travel sector there is also an extreme loss of demand.

Lockdowns should not hamper cross-border flows of products

In the European Union, there are several countries that went into far-reaching lockdowns (e.g. Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Austria). Other government policies (e.g. the Netherlands, Sweden) are not yet based on a full lockdown. In both situations, but especially in the case where consumers are no longer allowed to visit brick-and-mortar shops, online retail can play a vital role.

Online shops, parcel delivery and postal operators work together day and night to meet the challenge of continuing to deliver products to consumers all over Europe. Marlene ten Ham, Secretary General of Ecommerce Europe: “In these times, it is crucial to keep the borders open for essential products and not impose further restrictions on import and export. We strongly support the call from European Commission’s President ,Ursula von der Leyen, to keep the borders open for import of the goods that people urgently need.”

Ecommerce Europe asks Member States’ governments to properly follow the instructions of the European Commission to ensure that products can still be circulated cross-border within the EU Single Market and internationally.

Information sharing across industry and with EU decision-makers is key

To help businesses deal with the current crisis, Ecommerce Europe would like to facilitate the information exchange on the impact of Coronavirus on e-commerce as much as possible. We have, therefore, launched a Coronavirus E-commerce Info Center. On this webpage, we collect updates on EU measures, national measures and initiatives, and relevant news. The portal will be updated continuously.

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