No, 2020 has not been a good year for e-commerce

With Christmas gifts behind us, it’s time to take stock for e-commerce in France. And it has some surprises in store. It has been said a lot that the health crisis had pushed the French into the arms of e-commerce, especially during a period of confinement. When the stores are closed, there is no choice, you have to consume online! This is largely true. As proof: the Christmas holidays were those of all records. In December, La Poste delivered 4 million parcels per day, 50% more than last year.

Slowed growth

And yet, on closer inspection, the situation is much more mixed. Some figures show it. Last year, in 2019, the e-commerce sector saw a spectacular growth of 11%. Before the Covid, we therefore expected a comparable dynamic this year, and forecasters were expecting double-digit growth. It was not the case. The increase should be more modest: 6%, according to forecasts by the Federation of E-commerce and Distance Selling, Fevad, which forecasts global turnover of around 110 billion euros for the year. .

Such growth remains a good result, while the French economy has plunged into recession. Nevertheless: we can above all remember that the Covid had the effect of slowing the rise in e-commerce – at least in the short term.

Sectors down, others that are booming

This slowdown is explained by the catastrophic year of services, starting with the tourism sector. The French bought much less plane or train tickets, stays, hotel nights… The online travel sector thus collapsed by 40% during the summer, and even more the rest of the world. ‘year. However, taken together, services account for half of the turnover of online commerce.

Conversely, there are sectors that are doing much better. It is not the services, but the sale of products. The big winner is the food drive, up more than 30%, again according to Fevad (however, the figures for the third quarter have not yet arrived). The boom is comparable for beauty products and health products. Clothing is up 17% and DIY is also doing very well.

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We also note that the French have remained attached to their usual businesses. Brands like Boulanger, Leroy Merlin, Décathlon, or Fnac, ” grew online three times faster than businesses that sell only online », Explains Marc Lolivier, the general delegate of the Federation of E-commerce. So it’s not just the giant Amazon that is making progress! And this is fortunate, because online commerce has thus played an economic shock absorber role during the crisis, even if this should not make us forget that e-commerce has generated 114,000 job losses in a decade.

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New behaviors

The health crisis has also contributed to changing behavior. “After the astonishment of the first confinement, companies have accelerated their digital transformation”, continues Marc Lolivier. However, the success of e-commerce does not depend only on digital tools and computer servers, but also and above all on the health protocols put in place to protect employees. Companies were much better prepared in this regard during the second confinement. This enabled logistics, crucial when orders pour in, to withstand the shock: there was no major delay in deliveries, even at the height of “Black Friday”.

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Overall, Fevad believes that the health crisis has enabled e-commerce players to gain market share: “Each year, we take a point of market share, but this year, it should be two or three. “ And it is probably not over yet. Because if the French consume as much online as their German neighbors, the world champions, the British, already do twice as much.

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