The Ecommerce Marketplace Picture for the First Half of 2021

Wednesday July 7, 2021 | Posted at 10:07 am | By Paul Dicken
July 7, 2021 @ 10:07 am

In January 2021 we published a review of the second half of 2020 and the year as a whole. In this post we look back at ecommerce marketplace and web store activity for the first half of 2021. Our data comes from marketplace and web store GMV (Gross Merchandise Volume) we see across the Volo Origin platform, as analysed and presented by the Volo Vision reporting module, and use it to judge UK ecommerce activity as a whole.

Here are the figures month-by-month for ‘H1’ 2021. As always, our analysis methodology is to take a 3-figure ‘same set’ group of established customers to measure their year-on-year growth as a reflection of their organic growth. We exclude any new customers we’ve started working with, since otherwise some growth on our platform is attributed to adding them.

  • For January 2021, GMV was down 2% on December 2020, and up 44% on January 2020
  • For February 2021, GMV was down 5% on January, and up 45% on February 2020
  • For March 2021, GMV was up 26% on February, and up 17% on March 2020
  • For April 2021, GMV was down 13% on March, and down 18% on April 2020
  • For May 2021, GMV was down 3% on April, and down 21% on May 2020
  • For June 2021, GMV was up 1% on May, and down 13% on June 2020

We’re slightly guilty of comparing apples with oranges here, but the first half of 2021 was up 3% on the first half of 2020. In March 2020 we went into the first UK lockdown, and then in March 2021 we started to ease restrictions from the second UK lockdown. These are unprecedented times, so let’s unpack what happened month by month.

January 2021 was a strong month for the industry. The UK went back into lockdown and as a result GMV was only down 2% on the Christmas month. January is traditionally a sluggish month, as was the case in 2020, so it’s no surprise that January 2021 was up 44%, benefitting from changing buying habits in 2020 and the second lockdown uplift.

February 2021 was a similar story. Slightly down on January, due to it being a shorter month, it was 45% higher than February 2020 for the same reasons. From March 8th 2021 the UK started to open up once more, and together with being a longer month it posted a 26% uplift on the month before and 17% higher than March 2020, as Western Europe went into lockdown in the second half of March 2020.

In April 2021 we start to see the effects of two opposing trends: increased freedom in 2021 and the lockdown effect of 2020. Consequently April 2021 was 13% down on the month before and 18% down on the monster ecommerce month that was April 2020, when pandemic uncertainty was at its highest and non-essential physical stores closed their doors.

May 2021 saw a continuation of the reverse phenomenon, with GMV down 3% on April 2021 and down 21% on May 2020 as a few online categories suffered mightily (think travel, fashion and hospitality) and many categories did extremely well, such as home and garden. June rallied by 1% and was still 13% down on June 2020.

The question on many people’s lips is, how much of the Covid ‘bump’ we will retain and build from? It’s too early to say, but we think many in ecommerce would take 87% of the Covid bubble (working off June 2021 as 13% down on the year before) as an excellent base from which to kick on in H2 2021 and beyond.

To discuss your ecommerce plans and requirements for peak 2021 and beyond, please get in touch with us here.

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