Covid-19, closing… e-commerce exploded in France in 2020.

E-commerce made a real leap in France in 2020. Until then, the share of online sales did not weigh more than 10% of total retail trade, and was constantly growing, by about 1 point per year. “There’s progress of almost 4 points, from 9.8% to 13.4%,” notes Marc Lolivier, general delegate of Fevada, Federation of E-Commerce and Distance Sales. Or “three or four years of growth in one year.” This growth is primarily a consequence of “digitalization of stores”, he explains. According to Fevad, in fact, the sale of products was “encouraged by physical companies that have been using online sales intensively since the beginning of the crisis.”

Internet sales are therefore not the exclusive property of Amazon and other e-commerce giants, but also of physical stores, both very large and small, which saw it as a means of “easing the closure of their stores” due to closures and other health restrictions, said François Momboisse, president. Fevada. However, be careful: the increase in this weight in total sales is also due to the fact that physical sales fell sharply due to these constraints. In addition, another federation, Procos, a representative of specialized trade, recently explained in its report for 2020 that for its members, online sales compensated only “2 to 4% of the loss of business in stores”.

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“A new trade page every half hour” 2020: This is how Marc Lolivier envisioned an increase in the number of trade pages on Thursday during this extraordinary year. In particular, the number of locations, all products and services combined, increased from 165,000 in the last quarter of 2019 to 182,500 at the end of 2020 (+17,400). They recorded 1.84 billion transactions (+ 5.8%). In addition, “online shopping is everyone’s business,” notes Jamila Yahia-Messaoud, director of the Consumer Insights department of Médiamétrie. According to the Médiamétrie Internet Usage Observatory, 81.4% of French people shop online, a share that rises to 91.6% for people aged 35 to 49 and 93.6% for CSP +. Seniors are not left out: 73.8% of people aged 65 and over have already ordered online. More than 37% of them say they have “stepped up” online shopping since the onset of the health crisis, especially to avoid “health risk” by going to the store. In some cases, ordering online was the only way to get certain products.

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Overall, sales of online products and services for 2020 were 112.2 billion euros in 2020, an increase of 8.5%, according to Fevad. The element is a priori surprising: that is less than the 115 billion that the federation expects. This is because it includes services in its calculation of e-commerce figures, much of which corresponds to transport, tourism and leisure. With border closures, travel restrictions and persistent health insecurities, this aspect of e-commerce logically collapsed in 2020, by -41% according to Fevad.

The category of services as a whole fell by 10%, while sales of products increased by 32%. This has shifted the “focus” of French e-commerce, as products now account for 54% of online sales, compared to 46% a year earlier. Is it sustainable? Fevad did not give a quantified outlook for 2021 because “it depends too much on the service situation,” explains Marc Lolivier.

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