While evidence of the Covid-19-induced accelerated shift to online shopping has been well reported, a new survey reveals that consumers in emerging economies have made the greatest shift.
Undertaken by Unctad in partnership with the Netcomm Suisse eCommerce Association and entitled ‘Covid-19 and E-commerce', it points out that while online purchases rose, consumer spending fell.
The survey covered Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, South Africa, Switzerland and Turkey.
And while responses revealed that small merchants in China were most equipped to sell their products online, those in South Africa were least prepared.
Following the pandemic, more than half of the survey’s respondents now shop online more frequently and rely on the internet more for news, health-related information and digital entertainment.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards a more digital world. The changes we make now will have lasting effects as the world economy begins to recover,” said Unctad secretary-general Mukhisa Kituyi.
He said the acceleration globally had underscored the urgency of ensuring all countries could seize the opportunities offered by digitalisation as the world moved from pandemic response to recovery.
The survey shows that online purchases have increased by 6 to 10 percentage points across most product categories.
The biggest gainers are ICT/electronics, gardening/do-it-yourself, pharmaceuticals, education, furniture/household products and cosmetics/personal care categories.
Increases differ between countries, with the strongest rise noted in China and Turkey and the weakest in Switzerland and Germany, where more people were already engaging in e-commerce.