During the first quarter of 2020, the impact that Covid-19 crisis has had on Belgians was heavily evident. Although the amount of people who did shop online has been increases, but overall online spending of Belgians saw an 8 percent decline to 2.7 billion Euros.

For its first time since the beginning of the data measurement on the Market Monitor, Belgians have experienced a decline in online shopping. Where inflation has usually been about 7 percent a year in past years, it is now down 235 million euros, or 8 percent decrease compared to the same period in 2019.

The Belgians shop online at a gross amount of 2.7 billion euros during the first quarter of 2020. Even so, many more customers have made their way to online shopping: this quarter, with 7.5 million online shoppers, there is another 2 per percent growth compared to the same quarter of 2019. That equates into 117,000 customers who entered the online shopping.

The study suggests 4 out of 10 customers shop more online. And it’s evident in the overall amount of internet sales as well: it has grown to 28 million. Furthermore, 10 per cent of customers are already persuaded that after the Covid-19 crisis, they will continue shopping online.

Wallonia Versus Flanders

In Flanders, the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on online trade seems far greater than in Wallonia and Brussels. In Flanders, spending fell by €197 million (-10%); in Wallonia and Brussels, it fell by €39 million (-4%).

shop online

Of particular note is the difference in the transport and tourism sector. Online travel purchases have dropped by half in Flanders, while there is just a quarter decrease in French-speaking Belgium. Flanders is far more export-oriented than Wallonia, according to BeCommerce’s Sofie Geeroms, and in that context it is also far more vulnerable to global trends.

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Garden appliances

“The Covid-19 crisis already was raging in China in January, and that manifested itself faster in Flanders than in the southern part of the Belgium.” Online product shopping grew by EUR 227 m. t’s surprising that the main beneficiary of the Covid-19 crisis did not had a bad impact on Television & Entertainment segment, but the Home & Garden segment was the biggest winner. gIn the first quarter of 2020, the latter’s online shopping increased by 59 million euros (68 per cent).

That segment only increased in Flanders (+127 per cent), it shrank by 4 per cent in Wallonia and Brussels. “Where customers used to buy smaller products online, such as paint and scented candles, there is no skepticism now in the online shopping and home delivery of bigger products such as outdoor furniture, bbq’s and umbrellas. We anticipate customers to continue to use this in the future now that they have found the comfort of home delivery,” Geeroms said.

More media and entertainment, fewer travel and events

The Media & Entertainment category’s rise of 10 percent is also an outcome of the lockdown and home-work. The Covid-19 crisis affecting significantly the resources offered online. The study shows a decrease of 28 percentage points as opposed to last year’s same period.

Although the travel and tourism industry is usually the largest online market, these industries now crash with a 43 percent decline in online shopping on “airplane tickets and hotels (not packaged)” and 20 percent decline in package travel. There was a quarter of a decrease in tickets for attractions and events, such as concerts, movies, and zoos, relative to the same period last year.

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“The Covid-19 crisis did not begin with the quarantine on March 13 for these sectors but long before,” Geeroms highlights. “Travel, including to Asia and Italy, was postponed earlier than ours in January and February when the Covid-19 crisis began there” (Belga)


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