FILE PHOTO: A woman uses a computer keyboard in this photo illustration taken in Sydney
ZURICH (Reuters) – Online sales accounted for nearly a fifth of total retail turnover last year as lockdowns to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic fuelled a boom in e-commerce, a United Nations study released on Monday showed.
Online sales accounted for 19% of overall retail sales in 2020, up from 16% a year earlier, according to estimates from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) based on national statistical offices in major economies.
South Korea reported the highest share at 25.9%, up from 20.8% the year before. China had a 24.9% share, Britain 23.3% and the United States 14.0%.
Global e-commerce sales rose 4% to $26.7 trillion in 2019, according to the latest estimates available, UNCTAD said. This included business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) sales, and was equivalent to 30% of global economic output that year.
The pandemic led to mixed fortunes for leading B2C e-commerce companies in 2020, according to the report.
Data for the top 13 e-commerce firms, 11 of which are from China and the United States, showed a notable reversal of fortunes for platform companies offering services such as ride hailing and travel, which saw sharp declines in gross merchandise volume (GMV).
“For instance, Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) fell from 5th place in 2019 rankings to 11th in 2020, Booking Holdings (NASDAQ:BKNG) from 6th to 12th and Airbnb, which launched its initial public offering in 2020, from 11th to 13th,” it said.
China’s Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) remained atop the rankings by GMV, followed by Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) in the United States.
Despite the drop at services companies, total GMV for the top 13 B2C e-commerce companies rose by 20.5% to $2.9 trillion in 2020, outpacing the 17.9% gain in 2019.