Wednesday 5/12/21
E-COMMERCE

Pandemic sees online retail boom

Global e-commerce increased by 4% for sales of 26.7 trillion dollars, more than the gross domestic product of the United States.
The logo of the E-commerce company Amazon, is pictured on a warehouse in Kiekebusch. Photo: Patrick Pleul/dpa.
The logo of the e-commerce company Amazon, is pictured on a warehouse. Photo: Patrick Pleul/dpa.
Online retail has boomed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with worldwide e-commerce sales last year topping 26 trillion dollars, according to estimates by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Online retail jumped from 16% to 19% of total retail last year, according to UNCTAD calculations published on Monday, while global e-commerce increased by 4% for sales of 26.7 trillion dollars, more than the gross domestic product of the United States, the world's biggest economy.

Ten of the top 13 e-commerce firms are from China or the United States, with Alibaba topping the list ahead of Amazon, and Canada's Shopify the highest-ranked from a third country at five. 

While share of online sales across the world's major economies grew, as on-off lockdowns forced people to spend large chunks of time indoors, UNCTAD said there had been a "notable reversal of fortunes for platform companies offering services such as ride hailing and travel."

Shares of retail done online in China and South Korea surged to almost a quarter of the totals, with Britain close behind after a jump from 15.8% in 2019 to 23.3% last year.

Online sales in the US, whose e-commerce firms last year recorded sales worth over one-third of the global total, increased from 11% cent to 14% of national retail.

The 2020 online business boom came amid what UNCTAD earlier said was the sharpest annual drop in global economic output since record-keeping was started in the 1940s.

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