The coronavirus has been disastrous for most industries, but as we have reported here, it has been a boon to e-commerce. Some new data today further confirms this reality. Earlier today, Walmart reported that in the three months from February through April, e-commerce orders swelled by 74%. This comes a few weeks after both Shopify and PayPal expressed that they are experiencing ‘Black Friday’ levels of sales.
On a call on Tuesday, Walmart announced that although foot traffic fell over the past three months, other metrics showed large gains. The number of people trying out online grocery delivery for the first time grew fourfold from February to April. Products that would have sold over two or three days were gone within hours. After an initial rush to buy staple items such as groceries, spending rose a second time when Americans began getting their stimulus checks. Consumers began to stock up on home office furniture, exercise equipment, and entertainment.
Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillen said that this growth had ‘stretched’ the supply chain. Walmart has hired 235,000 new workers since March to accommodate the surge in demand, and is temporarily shipping online orders from 2,500 new stores. The retail giant has also spent about $900 million in Covid-19 related costs. Demand is high for lower-margin items (hello, toilet paper shortage!) while fulfillment costs ate into Walmart’s bottom line.
Walmart is not the only retailer for whom e-commerce is booming. In April, Shopify announced that it was seeing Black Friday levels of sales every day. PayPal reported that on May 1st, the company had its largest day of transactions in company history, trouncing Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays of holiday seasons past.
3PL Central, a warehouse management system announced in April that e-commerce order volumes from March 19 to April 20 had surged by 81% since the same period last year. Order volumes reached a new high, but did not show signs of slowing down. Whether these trends continue after stay home orders end is anybody’s guess.