eCommerce accounted for 19% of overall retail sales in 2020: UN Study

By Sayujya S, Desk Reporter
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A United Nations’ (UN) study showed that online sales accounted for nearly a fifth of total retail turnover last year as lockdowns to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic led to a boom in eCommerce.

Online sales accounted for 19 percent of overall retail sales in 2020, up from 16 percent a year earlier, according to estimates from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) based on national statistical offices in major economies.

South Korea reported the highest share at 25.9 percent, up from 20.8 percent the year before. China had a 24.9 percent share, Britain 23.3 percent and the United States 14.0 percent.

Global eCommerce sales rose 4 percent to $26.7 trillion in 2019, according to the latest estimates available, UNCTAD said. This included business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) sales, and was equivalent to 30 percent of global economic output that year.

B2C Companies

The pandemic led to mixed fortunes for leading B2C eCommerce companies in 2020, according to the report. Data for the top 13 eCommerce firms, 11 of which are from China and the United States, showed a notable reversal of fortunes for platform companies offering services such as ride hailing and travel, which saw sharp declines in gross merchandise volume (GMV).

“For instance, Expedia fell from 5th place in 2019 rankings to 11th in 2020, Booking Holdings from 6th to 12th and Airbnb, which launched its initial public offering in 2020, from 11th to 13th,” it said. China’s Alibaba remained atop the rankings by GMV, followed by Amazon in the United States.

Despite the drop at services companies, total GMV for the top 13 B2C eCommerce companies rose by 20.5 percent to $2.9 trillion in 2020, outpacing the 17.9 percent gain in 2019.

Related: Amazon predicts online shopping behavior will continue even after pandemic recedes