Online retail sales surged in April as hundreds of millions of people across the globe stayed home, ACI Worldwide found.
The universal payments company reported that the general retail sector saw 209% growth in global e-commerce sales in April 2020 compared with the same period a year prior. Additionally, ACI Worldwide saw average transaction volume increase by 23.5% in April year-over-year.
“Trends in e-commerce purchasing behaviors that we began to see in March have continued in April, as hundreds of millions of consumers around the world adapt to the restrictions put in place to inhibit the spread of the coronavirus,” Debbie Guerra, EVP, ACI Worldwide, said. “Consumer behavior is very much in flux, with some sectors thriving while others are focused on surviving the economic impacts of the pandemic.”
The gaming sector saw the largest year-on-year growth, with sales up 126% in April compared with a year prior. Meanwhile, ticketing sales fell by 99%, while travel sales dropped by 91%. Overall, online retail transaction volume between January and April of 2020 rose 24% compared with the prior year period.
With physical stores shut throughout most of the U.S. and Europe in April, e-commerce sales offered retailers a way to make up some of the brick-and-mortar losses. However, retailers have run into a number of issues as they seek to keep up with online demand. For one, e-commerce sales are known to result in a higher volume of returns. According to industry estimates, shopping online can see return rates as high as 30%.
Additionally, companies are shouldering shipping slowdowns in recent weeks, with many retailers forced to notify shoppers that they should expect delays. A number of factors have led to the slowdown: Most companies have had to implement safety measures at their warehouses, reducing the number of workers in a facility at one time and reducing their capacity to quickly fulfill orders. Retailers have also had to grapple with potentially overwhelmed shipping services, with FedEx placing a cap on orders shipped from some locations.
What’s more, factory shutdowns in Asia earlier this year have impacted access to inventory for some. (One solution some retailers have implemented involves shipping product from temporarily shuttered stores in addition to distribution centers).