When shutdowns end, will shoppers stay online?

Published: May. 12, 2020 at 2:46 PM EDT
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Stores in some states are reopening, but there has been a big jump in people shopping online during weeks of shutdowns because of the coronavirus pandemic. And it's a trend that could continue.

Steven Singer Jewelers in Philadelphia is closed because of the coronavirus but sales continue.

"The online orders have skyrocketed," owner Steven Singer said. "It doesn't compensate for all the in-store orders we've missed, but it's nice to see we're able to help people."

"April represented a 49% increase in e-commerce sales over March," said John Copeland, the vice president of marketing and customer insights at Adobe Analytics.

According to Copeland, sales for electronics jumped and leisure clothing got a boost.

"In apparel, we're seeing really a shift to comfort. So pajamas, as a matter of fact, increased over 143% month over month," he said.

It's not surprising web traffic increased for stores that had to close, but even industries that kept their doors open during the pandemic saw more customers move online.

According to Adobe Analytics, e-commerce purchases for alcohol increased 74% between March 11 and April 21, and more people shopped online for groceries, up 110% in April compared to March.

"I think for a while it is going to be the new normal even as people begin to leave their homes and go back and start shopping," Copeland said.

That's bad news for struggling brick-and-mortar stores. Several, including J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Pier 1 Imports and Modell's Sporting Goods, recently announced plans to file for bankruptcy.

"What we are seeing is people getting increasingly comfortable making their purchasing decisions and deliveries online," Copeland said.

It's one shopping trend expected to have a lasting impact on a growing number of businesses.

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