eCommerce in 2021: year-end figures

min read | January, 2022
As 2021 draws to a close, it is a good time to take a look at the latest eCommerce figures.
eCommerce in 2021: year-end figures

After the significant jump that occurred with the pandemic, what do the latest indicators show us in the main markets? What is happening in a context of a gradual return to “normality” after the restrictions on mobility?

Taking the United States as a reference, the second largest market in terms of e-commerce sales volume after China and where statistics are more reliable because they are official, generated by the Department of Commerce, we can highlight two elements of the latest data.

The first is that for the first time in many years, in the second and third quarters of the year, total retail sales grew at a faster rate than eCommerce sales, which is to be expected with the reduced restrictions on mobility that occurred in that period.

The second noteworthy element is that while digital channel sales growth has slowed, they continue to increase compared to the record levels seen in 2020 with the significant impetus from the pandemic.

To comment on some figure, from growing 39% in Q1 2021 compared to the same quarter in 2020, prior to the restrictions due to Covid in the US, the latest data for Q3 2021 shows a 7% increase over a year ago.

7% growth then, compared to the third quarter of 2020, when pandemic restrictions were significant?

That’s right, with more perspective, in the third quarter of 2021 eCommerce sales in the U.S. were 41% higher than two years ago, pre-pandemic, when in the same period retail sales through traditional channels were up just under half.

With the latest figures, in July-September 2021, sales through digital channels in the U.S. accounted for 12.5% of retail sales, when 5 years ago, in Q3 2016, they were 7.7%.

This is with respect to sales through September, but we already have figures from the results of Black Friday and Cyber Monday that may advance what will happen in the last months of 2021…

According to Adobe Analytics, overall e-commerce spending on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday is down slightly from the previous year. U.S. shoppers spent $10.7 billion on Cyber Monday, down 1.4% from last year, and $8.9 billion on Black Friday, a decline of 1.3% year-over-year.

This slight reduction in the U.S. market contrasts with what happened at Amazon. Some of the figures released by the company for Black Friday show an increase of 4.4% over a year ago in units sold and 10.7% in revenue. Amazon’s Cyber Monday sales grew 7.5% in the number of orders, registering 81.3 million units sold, an average of 56,000 orders per minute.

Part of Amazon’s growth may be due to its lower prices in relative terms, which on average are estimated to be 15% cheaper than its competitors in the main categories.

What figures do you have for ecommerce in other regions?

If we go to China, Alibaba reported another year of record sales figures on Single Day, the world’s largest annual shopping event. The company stated that during the first 11 days of November, thus including Single Day, sales reached an equivalent of $85 million, up 8.5% compared to the same period in 2020.

However, this figure shows a significant slowdown compared to last year, due to the weakness of China’s economy and the increased controls that the country has imposed on the technology industry.

In summary, what overall assessment can we make of these figures?

Despite the slowdown in the markets and although data from the last few months is lacking, everything points to 2021 marking a new record for ecommerce sales in the main markets, despite the return to greater mobility.

Learn more about this topic. Listen to the episode of Ur, our digital business podcast, by clicking here.

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