Germany: Upturn in April does not yet compensate all online retailers for corona-related minus

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Berlin 12.05.2020

In April, German online retailers were able to make up significantly for the decline in sales recorded in March. Overall, e-commerce with goods was 17.9 percent up compared to the same month last year and reached a volume of EUR 6.82 billion including VAT (April 2019: EUR 5.78 billion including VAT). This is shown by a special evaluation of the consumer survey “Interactive Retailing in Germany” of Bundesverband E-Commerce und Versandhandel e.V. (bevh), which is conducted throughout the whole year.

Cumulative sales development in March and April

However, not all product ranges were able to compensate for the minus recorded in March. Cumulated for the months of March and April, sales in the important “Clothing” segment amounted to EUR 1.75 billion including VAT, which is still 8.8 percent less than compared to the same period last year (EUR 1.92 billion including VAT). The decline in shoe sales was even more pronounced with -11.3 percent. With -40.3 percent “Jewellery/Watches” and
Auto&Motorcycle/Accessories with -23.7 percent were the segments with the strongest decline. The buying restraint in these categories corresponds to the general consumer reticence in the retail sector as a whole and to the current, exclusively needs-driven way of shopping.

The fact that in general, April overcompensated for the weak month of March with a cumulative plus of 2.3 percent is in particular due to the strong growth in the categories “food” (+101 per cent), “pharmaceuticals” (+87.3 per cent), “drugstore goods” (+55.1 per cent) and “pet supplies” (+20.2 per cent). However, it was precisely these product categories that were also continuously accessible in the stationary retail sector during the lockdown phase. “The enormous increase concerning daily consumer goods shows above all that consumers in Germany appreciate and use e-commerce as a reliable supplier, especially in such a crisis,” said bevh President Gero Furchheim. “We are proud of the performance of our employees in the sector and the delivery services, with whom we were able to fulfil our supply mandate under challenging conditions.”

Sales development from January to April

From January to April, e-commerce achieved a volume of 23.3 billion euros including VAT. Despite the corona-related drop in turnover in March, industry sales are now 5.8 percent higher compared to the previous year. In March 2020 alone, e-commerce had lost 18.1 percent compared to March 2019. In both years Easter was in the middle of April, so that there was no calendar-related bias. “There is still a long way to go to get to the new normality and the pandemic is far from being over,” adds Gero Furchheim. “What is important now is to drive the many encouraging initiatives forward that make the local offering digitally accessible and connect customers with retailers in the long term. E-commerce is more than a lifeline in the Corona pandemic – also for primarily stationary retailers. E-commerce is an indispensable building block for any modern retail concept.”

These tables show the developments in April 2019 compared to April 2020, the developments in March + April 2019 compared to March + April 2020 and the developments from January to April 2019 compared to January to April 2020 by individual product categories.


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