Online sales in Belgium grew just as fast in lockdown as in reopening stores

January 12, 2021 by
Sanne Leenders

The COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 gave a huge boost to the purchase of products online. As it turned out, it was not only in periods of lockdown. During the easing in the Summer months, when both the on-trade and the shops were open, growth continued. In addition, a third more products were bought online compared to the previous year, according to the BeCommerce Market Monitor.

COVID-19 has finally made Belgian entrepreneurs see the benefits of e-commerce. Together with the consumer, they are finally paving the way to a more mature e-commerce market ”, says Sofie Geeroms, Managing Director of BeCommerce.

Belgians spent a third more on products online during COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak has given a huge boost to the purchase of products online in the past year. We all bought no less than a third more compared to the same period last year. It is striking that the growth in the purchase of products is not only the same during periods of lockdown, but also during periods of relaxation. Where products were purchased for €3.7 billion in the first nine months of 2019. In 2020, this was €4.9 billion. Especially the clothing category has grown enormously during the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Online is no longer a temporary necessity because stores are closed, but a conscious choice for the convenience of home delivery, time savings and low prices," says Sofie Geeroms.

Average purchase online was €61.10

In 2020, more Belgians have also found their way to online trade. The BeCommerce Market Monitor recorded 8,048,009 Belgians who shopped online. The amount spent on these online purchases of products also grew with 8%. This means that the average order during the Summer months came to an expenditure of €61.10.

“During the first lockdown, we saw a striking increase in the 'computer & accessories' category. In the first wave, consumers have clearly anticipated working from home,” says Sofie Geeroms. “With the reopening of the stores, those purchases have decreased, but are still substantially higher compared to last year. Now it is other categories that steadfastly hold the top positions, including clothing, shoes & personal lifestyle and media & entertainment."

Belgian e-commerce scores 18% worse than 2019

E-commerce is not just about purchasing products online. Services such as travel, insurance and tickets to attractions and events are normally and traditionally the most important part of the cake. However, the COVID-19 outbreak has had a serious impact within the services sector. Only 25% of all online spending went to services. In 2019 this was more than half. That the services industry seems to be imploding online in this way is mainly due to the travel and events industry that seems to have been at a standstill since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“In the totals, which BeCommerce records in its Market Monitor, of products and services, we see a decrease in consumer spending for the third quarter of 2020. During the summer months, expenditure was 18% lower than last year. In total, this brought e-commerce to 2.2 billion in online spend," says Sofie Geeroms, Managing Director of BeCommerce." However, we are confident that the travel and events sectors will soon recover as vaccinations have started. Consumers are very excited to travel back and attend gigs and festivals. "

Smartphone and Bancontact are gaining popularity

The smartphone is becoming increasingly popular as a means of payment when shopping online. Mainly at the expense of the laptop. One in three has made at least one purchase with the smartphone. Nevertheless, half of the expenditure is still done online with the laptop.

Finally, in the third quarter, 43% of purchases were made via Bancontact online, the payment method confirms its number one position. Furthermore, the credit card ranks second and was used for 25% of online purchases. Finally, PayPal ranks third in the most popular payment methods with 17% of purchases online.

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