Global online sales among seven major economies jumped to almost one-fifth of all retail sales last year as more people turned to e-commerce during the coronavirus pandemic, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development reported on Monday.
Lockdowns and other restrictions that kept people confined to their homes collectively boosted the online share of retail sales in Australia, Canada, China, Singapore, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States to 19 percent in 2020, up from 16 percent a year earlier, Geneva-based UNCTAD said in its report.
And while total retail sales among these seven countries declined by 1 percent in 2020, down to US$13 trillion from US$13.1 trillion a year earlier, the share of online sales grew to nearly US$2.5 trillion, up from US$2 trillion.
The seven nations account for about two-thirds of the world’s US$4.8 trillion a year in business-to-consumer e-commerce sales. There are almost US$27 trillion a year in e-commerce sales worldwide, including US$21.8 trillion a year from business-to-business.
In South Korea and China, about a quarter of all retail sales were conducted online last year. The United Kingdom, with 23 percent, was not far behind, followed by the United States, 14 percent, Singapore, almost 12 percent, Australia, 9 percent, and Canada, 6 percent.
Eleven of the 13 top-selling e-commerce companies, led by Alibaba and Amazon, are from China or the United States. Just one, Shopify, is from Canada, and one, Rakuten, is from Japan.
“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.”