Covid-19’s impact on eCommerce revenue

Covid-19’s impact on eCommerce revenue Headshot

By Natasha Kenyon, Senior Marketing Operations Executive

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is impacting every part of our lives, including how and where we shop and what we buy. This has wide-ranging ramifications for marketing and eCommerce.

To help you benchmark your online sales performance against your peers, we've summarized the top trends we've seen across key eCommerce verticals during March and April 2020.

Analyzed companies

We looked at the impact of Covid-19 on 278 Fresh Relevance clients in a variety of industries:

Of the companies whose data was analysed, 67.27% were based in the UK, 15.11% in the Nordics, 11.51% in North America, and the remaining were from other countries in Europe and around the World.  

Looking at the pandemic’s impact on eCommerce revenue, we noticed that despite a slight dip at the beginning of March, throughout the rest of the month sales grew. Since then, throughout April there has been a further rise in sales, although the incline is less steep, growing more gradually to sit at 147%, as consumers have adapted to their new routines.

Trends by industry

New social distancing measures have had varying impacts on different industries which operate online. The following trends can be seen for the industries analysed:

Average revenue impact is calculated by adding all the revenue impacts seen by the sampled businesses together, and then dividing them by that sample size. If a small number of businesses are seeing revenue much higher or much lower than the majority, this can influence the average by bringing it up or down respectively. Whilst this accurately reflects the situation, the median can also be examined to identify revenue impacts without the influence of outliers. The median is the midpoint in the dataset, and can be a better indicator of what revenue impact the majority of businesses will be seeing. 


Retail saw a significant rise in revenue throughout March, growing to 160% by the end of the month. April saw retail sales level out to stay between 160-170% of what they had been at the beginning of March. 

The median, as seen below, when compared to the mean however, highlights that this average is high as it has been brought up by certain businesses performing extremely well throughout the changes brought on by the Covid-19 social measures. In looking at the median, it is clear that a lot of businesses have seen their sales stay stable and even grow slightly with the median at the end of April being 116% normal revenue. To cast further light on which verticals within retail are performing better, in the next section we will break down revenue impact within retail further.


The travel industry has been heavily impacted during March and April 2020 due to restrictions being placed on movement. During March sales fell on average to as low as 10% of sales at the beginning of the month. 

Throughout April, there has been a slight increase to as much as 33% of normal sales, although the median has remained lower at between 6%-10%. This suggests that certain businesses within the travel industry have managed to adapt and tailor their offering to the current situation as time has gone on, but for the majority there has been no change in the past month.


Similarly, attractions and experiences have seen a sharp decrease in sales as a result of social distancing measures. Revenue had dropped to 12% in March, and throughout April has remained between 15%-18%.


The online media industry, despite an initial decrease in revenue, has seen their average sales soar to as high as 208% during April 2020, with revenue at the end of the month being at 140%. 


For industries outside of retail, travel, media and attractions/experiences, such as charities, education and recruitment, the impact of Covid-19 has been more changeable week by week. It has ranged between 67%  normal revenue, to as high as 228%.

Taking a closer look at retail

Whilst as a whole, retail saw a rise in revenue across during March and April, different sub sectors experienced varying impacts. 

Sectors which have seen their revenue more than double during this period of social distancing are Toys/Games (423%), Gifts (276%), Books/Film (270%), Tobacco/Vaping (252%), Food/Drink (219%) and Home/Garden (216%). Each of these industries has been naturally suited to supporting #stayhomesavelives, which has seen them perform very well due to high demand during this time. 

Other verticals which have seen an increase in revenue throughout March and April are Technology (195%), Sport/Hobbies (157%), Pet Supplies (146%), Beauty (139%), Fashion (128%), Health (126%), One Stop Shops (118%) and DIY/Construction (105%). 

Industries which have seen a fall in revenue are Jewellery/Luxury Goods (90%), Office Supplies (73%), Automotive (65%) and Insurance/Finance (58%).

However, looking at these changes on a week-by-week basis, you can see that the impact on revenue has varied throughout the months and continues to change as the full picture emerges. Some industries have seen a steady increase throughout, a few have seen their revenue gradually fall, but for many there have been small increases and decreases rather than a large trend in one direction. 

Does the impact on revenue differ by geography?

For most areas of the world, online spending has increased. This increase has been higher in areas like the Nordics where average revenue has been at 167%. Even at its lowest during a decrease for a period throughout April, the Nordics still saw higher revenue than other regions of the world.  

The United Kingdom has seen its online sales grow steadily and then start to decrease in the last two weeks of April, still sitting at 119% revenue.  

The rest of Europe, which initially saw revenue grow, followed by a decline and then returning to an increase in the last week of April, has seen an average of 103% of normal revenue. 

North America, which throughout March saw revenue decrease to as low as 92%, has throughout April seen it grow steadily to 150%, with the average throughout the whole of March and April being 114%. 

The impact upon revenue for the rest of the World has varied more, but on average has increased to about 130% of what it was at the beginning of March. 

What does this data mean and how can marketers adjust accordingly?

The most significant takeaways from this data are:

  • On the whole, revenue has been steadily increasing for online businesses, as consumers have shifted their normal spending patterns to follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Travel and attractions/experiences have seen the most significant drop in revenue as a result of the introduced home isolation rules, but there have been some slight increases towards the end of April suggesting some businesses have adapted to the current situation.
  • Industries well suited to supporting consumers remaining at home have seen the most significant increases in revenue throughout this period. 

These numbers can act as a benchmark for your business, but what can you do to engage with your customers and lessen the impact of Covid-19 on your business?

Fresh Relevance is here to help, with advice on how marketers can adjust their ecommerce strategy during #stayhomesavelives and inspiration on how you can shape your marketing campaigns.

We are also offering free content tools for live cross-channel updates & critical messaging to help eCommerce businesses keep their customers engaged. 

Covid-19’s impact on eCommerce revenue Headshot

By Natasha Kenyon

Senior Marketing Operations Executive

As Senior Marketing Operations Executive at Fresh Relevance, Natasha works collaboratively with the rest of team to identify and provide best practice solutions for digital aspects of campaigns.