According to Adobe's Digital Economy Index report, buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) transactions jumped 208% year-over-year in April.
Overall, digital purchase power — a measure of how much more consumers can buy online compared with 2014 — increased by 4.1% in April from a year ago, Adobe said.
In the U.S., online grocery shopping grew by 110% in daily online sales in April, the report found. Apparel saw a 34% jump in online sales, but online prices for apparel declined by 12%, the greatest April price decrease in five years. Meanwhile, online electronics sales jumped by 58%, with COVID-19 inflating electronics prices for the first time in years.
Now that the COVID-19 has forced retailers to temporarily close their physical storefronts or weigh how to carefully reopen, retailers have had to navigate the challenges of socially-distanced commerce. The report said the spike in BOPIS transactions is a sign that consumers want to continue to limit their potential exposure to the coronavirus by cutting down their time in stores.
E-commerce sales weren't expected to make up for the loss of in-store traffic, but at least some sectors have seen an increase in sales. The Adobe report found that consumers are pivoting toward electronics, where prices have been experiencing deflation at steady rates since 2014, but it also projects that the favorable prices for this sector won't last. "It's unlikely that consumers will continue to experience favorable pricing online for electronics. Supply chain impact may even exacerbate these price changes in the coming months," John Copeland, vice president of marketing and customer insights at Adobe, said.
The pandemic has been particularly rough for apparel retailers and brands. The Adobe report noted that it's normal for apparel retailers to discount merchandise as the seasons change and clothing goes on clearance, but it's hard to determine what is normal as the pandemic continues.
"Apparel is experiencing discounting in April that is akin to the scale of discounting that certain categories experience during the Black Friday through Cyber Monday holiday sales period," Copeland said.
Grocery stores have stepped up their digital offerings as essential retailers became the focus of consumer spending. The coronavirus pandemic sent grocery app downloads to new heights, especially for Walmart, pushing essential retailers to invest in contactless payments, delivery, online ordering for drive-thru pick-up and mobile checkout options for consumers.