The latest data shows that eCommerce has remained buoyant, despite normal life resuming as people jet off on holiday and see friends, with online sales up 24% and referrals up 15% compared to pre-pandemic levels. That’s according to new research from Referral Engineering platform Mention Me, which has analysed online retail sales over Q3 2021.

As it heads into peak sales season, the retail sector is well positioned to maximise on this growth, with additional analysis from Mention Me anticipating 5% more sales on Black Friday this year than in 2020.

- Advertisement -

Food and drink brands become long-term winners of changing trends

Online food and drink has been one of the biggest growth sectors during the pandemic, with yet another strong performance in Q3 cementing this trend. Orders are up 10% compared to an already successful Q3 2020, and the data shows referrals, up 15% YoY, are a key driver of this growth: consumers shared food and drinks brands 30% more in Q3 compared to the same quarter last year.

Fashion, a bellwether for online retail, remains steady, with analysts seeing online activity comparable to 2020 levels and orders up 17% compared to before the pandemic in Q3 2019. Health and beauty continues to grow, up 11% compared to Q3 2020 and 45% from Q3 2019.

After a stellar 2020, the gifts and occasions sector has struggled to sustain its rapid growth, with sales down 30% year on year.  This is 22% higher than pre-pandemic however, and customers are 50% more likely to recommend ecommerce brands in this sector than in Q3 2020.

Home and garden orders have also fallen year on year, as consumers rebalance their spending away from home renovations now out of lockdown. However, despite being down 8% on Q3 2020, orders have increased a remarkable 45% since Q3 2019. Referrals have increased even further, up 34% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

“The more data we see, the clearer it is that the retail industry has become an online-first world,” said Simon Dring, head of retail insights at Mention Me. “Despite consumer spending adjusting to life post-lockdown, almost every ecommerce category continues to drive significantly more sales and referrals than pre-pandemic levels.”

“Our referral data also shows how the gap is now widening between brands able to leverage their customer data to drive customer acquisition and loyalty, and those left struggling to adapt to the world of ecommerce. ”