Online retail booms during pandemic but taxi and travel apps struggle – dpa international


App-based services such as Singapore-headquartered Grab have come to increasingly-depend increasingly on food delivery services during the pandemic as stay-home rules saw demand for taxis fall (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — Online retail has boomed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with worldwide e-commerce sales last year topping 26 trillion dollars, according to estimates by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Online retail jumped from 16 per cent to 19 per cent of total retail last year, according to UNCTAD calculations published on Monday, while global e-commerce increased by 4 per cent for sales of 26.7 trillion dollars, more than the gross domestic product of the United States, the world’s biggest economy.

Ten of the top 13 e-commerce firms are from China or the United States, with Alibaba topping the list ahead of Amazon, and Canada’s Shopify the highest-ranked from a third country at five.

While share of online sales across the world’s major economies grew, as on-off lockdowns forced people to spend large chunks of time indoors, UNCTAD said there had been a “notable reversal of fortunes for platform companies offering services such as ride hailing and travel.”

Shares of retail done online in China and South Korea surged to almost a quarter of the totals, with Britain close behind after a jump from 15.8 per cent in 2019 to 23.3 per cent last year.

Online sales in the US, whose e-commerce firms last year recorded sales worth over one-third of the global total, increased from 11 per cent to 14 per cent of national retail.

The 2020 online business boom came amid what UNCTAD earlier said was the sharpest annual drop in global economic output since record-keeping was started in the 1940s.

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