COVID effect or permanent increase?

Olga van Borren
17 March 2022
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, online purchases have risen sharply. In 2021, Dutch consumers made online purchases worth over 30.6 billion euros, an increase of 16% compared to 2020. This is shown by figures from a recent study conducted by GfK, commissioned by Thuiswinkel.org and Retail Insiders in collaboration with PostNL, Betaalvereniging Nederland and Currence.

In 2019, before the outbreak of COVID-19, and 2020, there was already an increase in online spending of 3% and 6% respectively. In 2021, spending rose to over 16%. Growth in online purchases was 7% in 2019, peaked at 26% in 2020 and was still high at 13% in 2021. Both COVID years thus show higher growth in online purchases, but only had 2021 higher growth in online spending. "Online growth was again fuelled by the COVID measures, such as the closure of non-essential shops in Q1 and late Q4. As a result, consumers have again made more online purchases this year, whereby it is striking that the total amount that a consumer spends online has also increased: from €1900 to €2180, an increase of 15%. Consumers are therefore getting used to spending more and more money online. We expect that consumers will continue to buy online this year, but the growth will be the same as before the COVID pandemic", says Marlene ten Ham, director Thuiswinkel.org.

Schermafbeelding 2022-03-15 om 16.09.06
Source: Thuiswinkel.org (2022)

The shift from offline to online

According to the study, the shift from offline to online purchases will continue in 2022. The share of total online spending is up 13%, compared to 11% in 2020 and only 8% in 2019. On an annual basis, the online share of total spending has increased from 27% to a whopping 31%. This increase is mainly due to the growth in online spending on products.

The importance of smartphones is increasing again this year. Almost a third of all purchases (29%) were made with a smartphone. In 2020 this was still 25%. By far the most purchases are paid with iDEAL (Dutch payment service). The share of iDEAL as a payment method for online purchases has risen slightly again this year (from 69% in 2020 to 70% in 2021). The strongest growth is for Apple Pay with 73% (from a 0.2% share in 2020 to 0.4% in 2021). 

More domestic purchases

For sellers in the Netherlands, we also have good news! The figures show that more than 90% of online purchases are made through domestic websites, compared to 88% in 2020. In addition, we see a growth in online cross-border spending (+14%), but a decrease in the number of purchases (-5%). This mainly applies to products and not to services, where the cross-border share in online purchases is actually rising slightly (from 8.5% to 9.0%). China and the UK are the main countries with a decrease in the share of cross-border purchases.

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