Online daily sales increased an average 49 percent through mid April, compared with early March, thanks in large part to stay-at-home orders prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. Grocery sales spiked 110 percent in online daily sales as more people tried to avoid long lines and crowds at stores.
Meanwhile, Adobe said that pajama sales soared 143 percent in April compared to March, while sales of pants dropped 13 percent and bra sales took a 12 percent hit.
As shelter-in-place orders took effect across the U.S. in March, major retailers shut their doors and consumers had to line up to buy groceries. That sent a shock wave through the U.S. economy, prompting once strong giants such as Macy’s to shut its stores and furlough most of 125,000 employees. Fellow retailer Nieman Marcus filed for bankruptcy after closing its 43 U.S. stores.
But consumers shopping from home has been a boon for others. Amazon reported its revenue was up 26 percent for the first quarter of the year, and it hired 175,000 workers. And online grocery delivery services have become a hot commodity across the country, with people reporting days-long waits to get a slot. On-demand delivery service Instacart announced in March it planned to hire 300,000 more shoppers to keep up with customer orders.
“We’re seeing an adaptation of buying, of people moving away from just panic buying toilet paper and PPE,” said Vivek Pandya, an analyst at Adobe Digital Insights.
Alyssa Jopling, a student at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, said she has been shopping online much more than usual because she has so much free time.
“I think the best question is, what didn’t I buy online?” she said. “Because I have literally bought anything.”
She spent $300 on new clothes and also bought about 20 candles, though now she isn’t sure why she wanted quite so many.
People are also buying more books and audio equipment, such as speakers, microphones and the multitudes of connector cables that keep our work-from-home lives up and running.
But electronics are also starting to get slightly more expensive for the first time in years, Adobe finds.
“It’s unlikely that consumers will be able to continue to experience favorable pricing online, for electronics, as it has for many years,” the report noted. Part of that increase may come from supply chain hang-ups as manufacturing comes back online after the pandemic through a wrench in its works.
Overall, the spike in online sales is an expected effect of the “offline economy being absorbed into the online one,” Pandya said. Even stores where people might usually shop in person may be getting some benefit — the Adobe study noted that sales of people ordering online and picking items up in person have spiked 208 percent from April 1 to 20 compared with last year.