The Covid-19 crisis has, rather counter-intuitively, hit the total Belgian e-commerce market hard last year. While more Belgians found their way to online shops, their purchases were smaller, reducing total turnover by 10 %.
A billion euros gone
Total turnover in the Belgian e-commerce sector dropped to 10.26 billion euros, BeCommerce reports. The decrease compared to 2019 is entirely due to the collapse of the services sector: due to the lockdowns and other measures, customers bought far fewer travel and tickets for attractions and events. "The travel sector alone faced a decrease of one billion euros in the past year. That is enormous!", BeCommerce's general manager Sofie Geeroms said.
On the other hand, the crisis boosted online sales of physical items, growing by a third to 7.5 billion euros. Consumers bought significantly more electronic products (+ 90 %) and computer accessories (+ 66 %), as many people were forced to work from home.
More shoppers, smaller purchases
Remarkable is the number of Belgians who made an online purchase for the first time. "2020 was the year that Belgians got to know e-commerce for good", Geeroms points out. "200,000 people found their way to an online store for the first time."
While last year saw a 12 % growth in online purchases, the average amount spent was significantly lower and fell from 102 to 81 euros. A major contributor to that was the decline in the service sector, where traditionally high amounts are spent on travel, among other things.