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.

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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.  

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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.

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.”

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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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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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