The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the way consumers shop online, the UN trade and development body, UNCTAD, said, announcing results of a survey of some 3,700 consumers across nine countries.
The study examined how the global crisis has impacted the way people use e-commerce and other digital tools, with more than half of respondents reporting they now shop online more frequently.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards a more digital world. The changes we make now will have lasting effects as the world economy begins to recover,” said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi.
UNCTAD conducted the survey together with Netcomm Suisse eCommerce Association, in collaboration with the Brazilian Network Information Center (NIC.br) and Inveon, a Turkish digital commerce company.
The countries covered were Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Switzerland and Turkey.
In addition to ramping up online shopping, researchers found that respondents also rely on the internet more for news, health-related information and digital entertainment.
The greatest shift to online shopping occurred among consumers in emerging economies, according to the survey.
Purchases across most product categories increased by six to 10 percentage points, with the biggest gains found in information and communications technology (ICT)/electronics, gardening/do-it-yourself, pharmaceuticals, education, furniture/household and cosmetics/personal care.
However, the survey revealed that average online monthly expenditure per person has dropped significantly.
Consumers in both emerging and developed economies have postponed larger expenditures, while spending on tourism and travel has declined by a staggering 75 per cent.