Media & Entertainment

US e-commerce sales jump 49% in April, led by online grocery

Comment

Image Credits: AlexRaths

Online retailers are seeing Black Friday-like sales due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their business. According to new data from Adobe’s Digital Economy Index, U.S. e-commerce jumped 49% in April, compared to the baseline period in early March before shelter-in-place restrictions went into effect. Online grocery helped drive the increase in sales, with a 110% boost in daily sales between March and April. Meanwhile, electronic sales were up 58% and book sales have doubled.

The data comes from Adobe’s index of the digital economy, which analyzes more than one trillion online transactions across 100 million different SKUs. The company works with 80 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers to gather its data.

The numbers indicate that consumers are willing to spend on products that will help them manage the COVID-19 crisis. This includes, in large part, online grocery pickup and delivery.

Companies, including Amazon, Walmart and Instacart, have hired more workers to aid with the increased consumer demand across their retail operations. Instacart even became profitable for the first time, The Information recently reported, due to the surge triggered by the coronavirus outbreak. The company sold around $700 million worth of groceries during the first two weeks of April, up 450% over its December 2019 sales, the report said.

Meanwhile, the electronics category of online sales saw its first inflation in years. According to Adobe, online electronics prices have been experiencing deflation at a steady rate since 2014, but COVID-19 has led to electronics prices flattening.

Computer prices even crept up in April, due to rising demand. Plus, sales of audio mixers, microphones, microphone cables and other audio equipment jumped 459% in April as would-be podcasters and various creatives set up their home studios.

The overall electronics category also appears to now be on an upward trajectory. This may not end anytime soon, Adobe’s report cautions, as COVID-19’s impact on the electronics supply chain may continue for many months to come.

Meanwhile, consumers turned online to shop apparel in April, with a 34% increase in sales as prices fell. With no need to dress for work — either due to unemployment or new work-from-home policies — April saw the largest monthly drop in apparel prices in more than five years. While April typically sees average price growth of -2.9%, this April the growth was -12%. Prices fell even further as retailers looked to rally sales by clearing inventory earlier.

When consumers did shop, they not surprisingly shifted their purchases toward comfort items. April saw increases in things like pajamas (up 143%) and decreases in business apparel like pants and jackets (down 13% and 33%, respectively).

In addition to the growth in specific categories, April also saw sizable growth in “buy online, pickup in store” orders. From April 1 through April 20, these surged 208% year-over-year as people attempted to practice social distancing while shopping.

Adobe’s data comes alongside other reports that indicate a huge jump in online shopping in April.

For example, Bazaarvoice’s data, based on its network of over 6,200 brand and retail sites, indicated that April was a much larger month for e-commerce than March. As consumers finished stocking up on essentials (like toilet paper, perhaps!) in March, they turned to online shopping for toys, games, entertainment, sporting goods and pet supplies in April in greater numbers.

Adobe’s report also found that e-commerce purchases of wine, beer, spirits and related accessories were up 74% in April, as consumers plowed through the COVID-19 crisis.

According to Bazaarvoice, April 2020 grew even faster than March across every indicator it tracked — including page views, order count, review submission and question submission.

March ended with a 25% year-over-year increase in page views, the report said, while April ended with an 88% increase. And March ended with a 21% year-over-year increase in order count, while April ended with a 96% increase. In addition, while browsing behavior like page views had outpaced purchasing behavior in March, that trend reversed in April.

The overall impact of the shift to online could be rising prices, Adobe warned.

“As online is absorbing the offline retail economy, some inflation is being observed for the first time in years, especially in categories that have consistently experienced online deflation, such as electronics,” said Taylor Schreiner, director, Adobe Digital Insights. “Americans are used to things getting cheaper online, but that trend may be ending, and online commerce may never be the same. It appears that COVID-19 has accelerated that process.”

More TechCrunch

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

2 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

2 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo