How ecommerce spending has shifted throughout the pandemic

Throughout the last two years we have seen ecommerce emerge as one of the heroes of the pandemic here in South Africa. Not only has it allowed folks to maintain social distancing protocols, it has also provided a number of jobs for delivery drivers.

While South Africa is still very much under a National State of Disaster, restrictions in 2021 have been less severe when looked at along side the hard lockdowns experienced at the top of the pandemic in 2020. This has had a noticeable effect on ecommerce, according to data from FNB Merchant Services and one can see a shift in how South Africans are shopping online these days.

Below is a table tracking the key performance in ecommerce between January and June 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. This data was collated via FNB Merchant Services.

Transportation & Related Services 46%
Lodging/Accommodations/Travel arrangements -9%
Retail 6%
Marketing/Subscriptions -35%
Educational Services 47%
Electronic, Electrical and Computer 47%
Outdoor/Recreational 18%
Home and Office Furnishing 34%
Restaurants, Bars, Fast food & related 36%
Grocery shops, Supermarkets, Butcheries, Bakeries & Related -8%


We’ve also compiled the data into a graph which you can see below.

As we can see, spending on education, electronics, prepared food and furniture have remained steady. Transport has increased as a by-product of ecommerce growth according to Thokozani Dlamini, chief executive officer at FNB Merchant services.

“Logistics has also become an important component in ecommerce customer experience by ensuring that merchants deliver goods and services to customers in the shortest time possible. As a result, we saw a substantial increase in transport and related services for the first half of the year,” says Dlamini.

What we find interesting is the decline in ecommerce for grocery stores and related industries. This could be indicative of more folks going into physical stores rather than relying solely on deliveries. In fact, FNB says that it has seen spending at Brick and Mortar merchants jump 28 percent year-on-year compared to 2020 when spending was down 13 percent.

This doesn’t mean that ecommerce should be abandoned though as lockdown measures do still impact the economy and many Brick and Mortar stores are still suffering.

There also appears to still be hesitancy when it comes to travelling with lodging, accommodations and travel arrangements all trending downward during the first half of the year. Whether this will change as we approach the festive period will be interesting to see, especially with talk of a fourth wave of COVID-19 hitting South Africa at around that time.

One industry not present in this data is clothing which may have provided further insight into how comfortable South Africans are when it comes to shopping at physical stores.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]


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