While physical stores are a lot emptier than usual, or just plain closed down, well-known retailers like Target and Walmart are experiencing unprecedented levels of online sales. And they aren’t just seeing an increase in the purchase of essentials. Everything from beauty products to lawnmowers is flying off shelves at record numbers. Although online sales have enjoyed a good portion of consumer spending, never before have their numbers gone – and stayed – so high. Learn why shoppers are buying online and see if this trend will stick around for good.

Consumers Have Discovered the Power of Retail Therapy from Home  

Online sales normally increase during holiday shopping periods when consumers can expect to find deep discounts during Black Friday and pre-Christmas sales. This brief period lasts from September until December, with many major retailers making the majority of their income for the year during this period. Back in March, when many stay-at-home orders were first enacted, shoppers turned to online shopping and almost immediately began panic buying essentials like toilet paper, disinfectant, and canned goods. Today, the majority of consumers enjoying online shopping are simply treating themselves to a bit of retail therapy. With companies like Walmart and Amazon offering fast, and often free, shipping, shoppers can make what truly amounts to frivolous purchases and still have them in short order.

The Infusion of the Economic Stimulus

While there are still concerns about the long-term state of the economy, the recently passed economic stimulus gave a lot of U.S. citizens an influx of cash. Some may have needed to spend the windfall on necessities such as rent, utilities, and insurance, but a lot of that money was spent via online retailers. There are shoppers who regularly use Walmart coupons to help bring down the total costs of their order. Likewise, lots of shoppers ensure that their total orders are still high enough to qualify for perks such as free and expedited shipping. Overall, consumers have spent more via online shopping because they still have spare cash.

Shoppers Have Nowhere Else to Go

Mandatory lockdowns have ended, or at least eased up, in a lot of states, but a large majority of people are still staying put. Whether they are staying home because of fear of contracting the novel coronavirus or simply because they have grown accustomed to being cooped up, it seems like online shopping has remained quite popular. What’s more is that a lot of major retailers still remain closed. Companies like Pier 1 have shuttered all stores and filed for bankruptcy protection. Only drive-in movie theatres remain an option, but Hollywood has delayed the premiere of many anticipated releases. In short, there is not a lot to do for most consumers, so online shopping is really their only means of buying what they want, when they want it.

Box big retailers are working around the clock to keep store shelves stocked as well as fulfill online orders. For those with health concerns, or without transportation, online shopping has been the way to go. It remains to be seen if consumers will continue to shop online at record numbers, but for now it seems that this upward trend will continue.