Research Shows E-Commerce Has Hit First Slowdown Since Pandemic — What Trend Could Mean Moving Forward

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For many Americans, online shopping was a godsend during the COVID-19 pandemic as lockdowns and closures limited — or even eliminated — the option of heading out to a physical store. Now that pandemic restrictions have eased, a significant portion of consumers have pulled back on online shopping this year, according to a new survey from Attest, a consumer research platform.

The survey of 2,000 working-age consumers, conducted in June and released on July 12, found that one-quarter of American shoppers spent less money online in the last six months than they did in comparable periods during the pandemic. Another 43% of those polled said they’ve spent the same amount of money. About one-third have spent more, possibly because of rising prices tied to inflation.  

The survey pointed to one of the first significant drops in the e-commerce boom brought on by the pandemic, Attest founder and CEO Jeremy King told GOBankingRates via email.

“The Attest U.S. inflation sentiment tracker has consistently found that a segment of Americans are cutting back on their overall spending month on month, and many are worried about their financial security right now,” he added.

The report revealed a mixed bag concerning online shopping trends over the final six months of 2022. Among its findings:

  • Spending levels will be uneven: Half of respondents expect their spending to remain the same for the remainder of the year. One-fifth think the amount they spend will decrease, while 30% think it will increase.
  • Most consumers will have less purchasing power: Even for the 50% of consumers who say their spending will stay the same, their reduced spending power due to inflation might mean they make fewer purchases. 
  • Younger consumers will spend more: The biggest increase in spending is expected to be from consumers 25- to 44-years old.
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In terms of overall online spending habits, the survey found that 65% of respondents spend $50 or more online each month. Of those, 30% spend more than $100. Less than one-quarter (23%) spend between $26 and $50 per month online, while 12% spend $25 or less. Nearly half (47%) buy items online at least once a week.

“Our tracker data shows that 58.1% of Americans are feeling the effects of inflation to a high or very high degree,” King said. “Also, more than a third of consumers are having to cut back on basics, and about half are spending less on non-essentials like clothes and dining out.”

Notable online shopping categories include gifts (69% of respondents) and technology (59%). Delivery time ranked as only the sixth-most important factor that drives Americans to make an e-commerce purchase, according to the survey. Nearly four-fifths of respondents (79%) said they would not pay over $8 for delivery.

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