Covid-19 movement restrictions fuel e-commerce – UN

Experts in trade and development at the UN (UNCTAD) said the e-commerce sector saw a “dramatic” rise in its share of all retail sales, from 16% to 19% in 2020.

Money grows.
The digital retail economy experienced most growth in the Republic of Korea, where internet sales increased from around one in five transactions in 2019 to more than one in four last year.

CAPE TOWN, May 4 (ANA) – Parts of the online economy have boomed since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic amid widespread movement restrictions, while some pre-pandemic big-hitters have seen a reversal of fortunes in the past year, United Nations economists have found.

Experts in trade and development at the UN (UNCTAD) said the e-commerce sector saw a “dramatic” rise in its share of all retail sales, from 16% to 19% in 2020.

“These statistics show the growing importance of online activities,” said Shamika Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics.

“They also point to the need for countries, especially developing ones, to have such information as they rebuild their economies in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The digital retail economy experienced most growth in the Republic of Korea, where internet sales increased from around one in five transactions in 2019 to more than one in four last year.

The UK also saw a spike in online transactions over the same period, from 15.8% to 23.3%, as did China, from 20.7% to 24.9%. The US went from 11% to 14%, while Australia went from 6.3% to 9.4%. Singapore saw a spike of 11.7% from 5.9% and Canada was 3.6% to 6.2%.

According to UNCTAD, among the top 13 e-commerce firms, most being from China and the US, those offering ride-hailing and travel services have suffered.

These include holiday site Expedia, which fell from fifth place in 2019 to 11th in 2020, a slide mirrored by travel aggregator Booking Holdings and Airbnb.

By comparison, e-firms offering a wider range of services and goods to online consumers fared better, with the top 13 companies seeing a more than 20% increase in their sales, up from 17.9% in 2019.

Overall, global e-commerce sales jumped to US$26.7 trillion in 2019, up 4% from a year earlier, the UN economists noted.

– African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Yaron Blecher

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