Impact of COVID-19 on Retail Ecommerce

Impact of COVID-19 on Retail Ecommerce

Published April 3, 2020. Last Updated April 8, 2020.


The number of coronavirus cases in the United States continues to increase. In this time of growing concern and crisis, it is important to look at data-driven insights and trends. Moving into April, NetElixir continues to track day-by-day changes in ecommerce sales and online shopping behavior throughout the Covid-19 outbreak. How has Covid-19 continued to impact retail ecommerce sales in April?

Because of the uncertainty and unpredictability of the situation, ongoing research is important to see daily shifts. The ecommerce demand has fluctuated greatly. We consider the daily data for the Pet Supplies and Tools and Hardware retail ecommerce categories, comparing the transaction data from April 1-2 2019 to that of 2020 to see how Covid-19 has impacted ecommerce sales and changed online shopping behavior.

NetElixir Founder and CEO Udayan Bose says, “I have been in this industry for over 20 years now. I have never, ever seen fluctuations on a day-to-day basis which is remotely even comparable to this one.”

April Ecommerce Trends During COVID-19

  • Shoppers are taking less time to complete their online orders during the Covid-19 crisis. With the forced shutdown of non-essential brick-and-mortar stores nationwide, shoppers are turning more toward online ecommerce. However, they are not spending as much time researching or comparing with other sites; instead, online shoppers quickly make a purchase decision.
  • The overall average order value (AOV) has remained steady when compared to 2019, as ecommerce retailers have reduced free shipping limits, which allows shoppers to buy only what they need.
  • Shopping online is a way to continue to support retailers and small businesses who have been impacted by Covid-19. As many retailers now only have an online presence, ecommerce sales allows them to maintain some of their business. Online shopping during Covid-19 has increased, luring in new customers whose preferred brick-and-mortar locations have closed.

Below is a deeper insight into Covid-19’s impact on retailers, specifically the Pet Supplies and Tools and Hardware ecommerce industries.

year over year changes in ecommerce sales during covid-19

Y/Y changes in the Pet Supplies and Tools & Hardware Retail Categories.

Ecommerce Sales for Pet Supplies in April 2020

Bose sorts pet supplies into the essential products category with food and grocery, as your social distancing companions need their fill as well. Based on NetElixir’s research, these essential retail industries have seen what Bose calls “an abnormal increase.” Increases in retail ecommerce sales have correlated with the increasing spread of coronavirus throughout the United States. 

The first two days of April for the Pet Supplies retail category, when compared with the 2019 data, has shown:

  • 33% increase in conversion rates.
  • 46% increase in online transactions.
  • 9% decrease in AOV.
  • 38% increase in the percentage of mobile orders.

As questions surrounding unemployment and the proposed stimulus check arise, people are seemingly shopping more conservatively. This conservative shopping results in a lower cart size. Online retailers are offering promotional discounts, like waiving or reducing online shipping fees. Lower minimum shipping fees means people don’t have to fill up their carts with small items to snag free shipping.

Data on DIY Searches during COVID-19

Lockdowns and social distancing measures have been extended until April 30. With a month at home, more people are turning to DIY hobbies and home improvement projects. The Tools and Hardware retail category is showing a lot of promise in terms of ecommerce growth during the coronavirus.

Google Trends data over this past month has shown a rise in queries related to how to make DIY safety and sanitary equipment, as pictured below.

People seek to take on home improvement projects in order to use their time at home productively.  To complete those projects, shoppers bought more Tools and Hardware for home renovations, gardening, and other homebound hobbies.

For the first two days of April 2020 when compared to the 2019 data, the Tools and Hardware retail category saw the following shifts:

  • 23% increase in conversions.
  • 66% increase in online transactions.
  • 17% increase in AOV.
  • 62% increase in the percentage of mobile orders.

Additional Insights

Bose says, “Look into the data. Look into the data and see as to what is the real thing.” NetElixir will continue to provide real time insights into the daily trends of ecommerce sales and online shopping behavior.

While we have covered an extensive dataset, it is by no means exhaustive. If you are interested in discussing specific insights for your category, please email us at

Register for our live webinar that shares the real data on ecommerce sales during the coronavirus. Our webinar will air Thursday, April 9 at 2 PM ET. We will feature another Retail Superhero who has delivered excellence service among the community. 

You can watch our March 11 webinar here, which was the first of the series on tracking the impact of the coronavirus on ecommerce sales and online shopping behavior.

Our March 26 update webinar featured our first Retail Superhero and detailed over a month’s worth of research.

For further reading, you can see our prior retail analytics updates on retail ecommerce and online shopping behavior:

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