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COVID-19 boosts global e-commerce to $26.7 trillion – UNCTAD

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The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has hit and continue to hit economies, affecting the standards and quality of life, healthcare systems, and businesses, but e-commerce has benefitted and online sales have shot up.

According to a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released Monday May 3, 2021, the pandemic has, resulted in mixed fortunes for some e-commerce companies, reversing the fortunes of firms offering services such as ride-hailing and travel.

“The dramatic rise in e-commerce amid movement restrictions induced by COVID‑19 increased online retail sales’ share of total retail sales from 16% to 19% in 2020,” estimates in the report indicated.

The report states that online retail sales grew markedly in several countries, with the Republic of Korea reporting the highest share at 25.9% in 2020, up from 20.8% the year before.

Global e-commerce sales, the report said, jumped to $26.7 trillion globally in 2019, up 4% from 2018, according to the latest available estimates.

This includes business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) sales, and is equivalent to 30% of global gross domestic product (GDP) that year.

UNCTAD however, points out that, government business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) statistics lag by over a year so 2020 data were not available at the time of this note.

“However, with a view to making preliminary assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on online shopping, this note draws on data on online retail sales from selected countries and from annual reports for 2020 of leading B2C e-commerce companies,” it said.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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