Online economy boomed in Covid times

Online economy boomed in Covid times

Online economy has boomed since Covid 19 began with the exception of a few hitters who saw a reversal of their fortunes, the UN Economists said.

The UNCTAD in its technical notes said that e-commerce sector saw a dramatic rise in its share of all retail sales, from 16 per cent to 19 per in 2020.


The UNCTAD economy experts say that COVID -19 generated an increase in demand for online ordering of physical goods. This happened because of quarantine restrictions imposed in many countries. Overall retail sales declined by one per cent in 2020 while online retail grew by 22 per cent, the economists said. The digital retail economy experienced most growth in the Republic of Korea. Here the internet sales increased from around one in five transactions in 2019 to more than one in four last year.

UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics Shamika Sirimann said that the statistics showed the growing importance of online activities. She also point to the need for countries, especially developing ones to have such information as they rebuild their economies in the wake of the pandemic.

Apart from the Republic of Korea, UK also saw a spike in online transactions over the same period from 15.8 to 23.3 per cent. The same was with China that had an increase from 20.7 to 24.9 per cent, the US from 11 to 14 per cent, Australia from 6.3 to 9.4 per cent, Singapore 5.9 to 11.7 per cent and Canada 3.6 per cent to 6.2 per cent.

The UNCTAD also said that online business-to-consumer (B2C) sales for top 13 companies stood at 2.9 trillion dollars in 2020.Online economy boomed in Covid times


The UNCTAD in its analysis said that among the top 13 e-commerce firms (mostly from China and the United States) those offering ride hailing and travel services suffered. All of them experienced sharp declines in Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) and corresponding drops in ranks. Holiday site Expedia fell from fifth place in 2019 to 11th in 2020, a slide by travel aggregator, Booking Holdings and Airbnb.

Meanwhile the analysis said that e- firms offering a wider range of services and goods to online consumers fared better. It said that top 13 companies saw more than 20 per cent increase in their sales – up from 179 firms in 2019. These e-firms include Shopify (gains rose more than 95 per cent last year) and Walmart (72.4 per cent).


The economists pointed out that global e-commerce sales jumped to 26.7 trillion dollars in 2019, up four per cent from a year earlier. In addition to consumer online purchases, this figure includes Business-to-Business (B2B) trade which put together was worth 30 per cent of global gross domestic product two years ago. China, the United States and the United Kingdom remained the top three countries by B2C e-commerce sales.


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