Online spending surge foreshadows a post-pandemic retail era


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by Mike Cassidy

The revival of retail is prominently featured in the Roaring `20s narrative that follows consumers’ return to normalcy, including by shopping in long-neglected brick-and-mortar stores as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. 

Less prominently on display is the rest of the story — the fact that an ecommerce boom unlike any in the history of retail continues to contribute to retail’s rise. 

Online spending figures for May show ecommerce spending in the U.S. continues its torrid pace, with monthly sales closing 151% higher than they were a year ago, according to Signifyd Ecommerce Pulse data. And yes, there is a hint of the Roaring `20s in the numbers.

What you need to know
  • Online apparel sales in May were up 228% year-over-year signaling that consumers are preparing to head back into the real world — where pants and shoes are required.
  • Overall ecommerce spending was up 151% in May, a strong indicator that the habits consumers adopted during the height of the pandemic will endure.
  • Consumers have big plans, based on Signifyd’s Ecommerce Pulse data. Online spending in May was up dramatically year-over-year in the Alcohol, Tobacco & Cannabis; Auto, Parts & Tires, Home Goods & Decor and Leisure & Outdoor retail verticals.

When we look at what consumers are spending on, it’s clear that many are ready to get going, let loose, be seen and be active. Many apparently are realizing that a move back to the office is going to require some changes. Time to wear pants and shoes again. In fact, online apparel sales were up 228% in May over May a year ago — a time when the reality of working from home for the duration was settling in. 

But don’t make the mistake of concluding Americans emerging from their long confinement are all work and no play. A look at the retail categories with the biggest spending boosts, clearly indicates that happy days are here again. Or at least that there is a considerable focus on making these days happy.

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