Online retail sales surge 49% during pandemic shutdown

Adobe's latest Digital Economy Index shows how the novel coronavirus pandemic is changing the way Americans shop online.

The novel coronavirus pandemic is changing the way Americans shop online, according to Adobe's latest Digital Economy Index. E-commerce sales surged 49% in April, led by online grocery and curbside pickup services and demand for comfy quarantine loungewear. 

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Launched earlier this year, Adobe's Digital Economy Index analyzes trillions of online transactions across 100 million products in 18 categories. The idea behind the Digital Economy Index is to reflect what consumers and businesses are actually buying.

According to Adobe, Buy Online, Pick Up in Store, commonly referred to BOPIS, hit a new record in April with an increase of 208% year over year. Growth in this area is largely due to the fact that stores were forced to rapidly adopt curbside pickup when statewide shutdown orders banned non-essential retailers from opening to the public.

Meanwhile, daily online grocery sales spiked 110%. Sales of electronic climbed 58% and daily book sales doubled. Electronics also appear to be getting more expensive, with Adobe noting that computer prices rose by 3.1% in April.

Adobe also found that shoppers are stocking up on booze and pajamas and buying fewer bras and pants. Pajama sales were up a whopping 143% between March and April, while online alcohol sales increased 74% over the same period. 

"As online is absorbing the offline retail economy, some inflation is being observed for the first time in years, especially in categories that have consistently experienced online deflation, such as electronics," said Taylor Schreiner, Director of Adobe Digital Insights. "Americans are used to things getting cheaper online, but that trend may be ending, and online commerce may never be the same. It appears that COVID-19 has accelerated that process."