Lockdown jacks up global online retail by 81% in May

Photo by Bruce Mars

Worldwide e-commerce sales continued to show strong growth in May, with certain sectors experiencing triple-digit year-on-year growth, according to ACI Worldwide based on hundreds of millions of transactions from global merchants.

Overall retail transaction growth of 81% in May, compared to the same period last year, was primarily driven by sportswear and sporting goods (216%), retail specific to housewares and DIY supplies (190%), and gaming (84%).

However, the easing of lockdown restrictions in many countries is reflected in certain sectors that until now have experienced the biggest boost; gaming purchases were up 126% over the previous year in April, compared to 84% in May, while electronics were up only 32 % in the past month after having been up more than 55 % in April.

Sectors that have been most negatively impacted showed a slight recovery in May; travel was down 91 % in April, while in May improved slightly to 73 % lower than the same period last year.

“People working from home are now set up, and we see spending shifting from home office supplies back toward consumer goods like sporting goods and home improvements,” said Debbie Guerra, executive vice president, ACI Worldwide.

Fraud attempt rates for May were at 3.4 %, down from 5.3 % and 4.4 % in March and April, respectively. Not only did fraud rate by value decrease in May, it was also the first time this year that fraud decreased on a year-on-year basis (3.8% in May 2019).

However, the average ticket price of attempted fraud increased by $18, driven by electronics and retail goods. Meanwhile, non-fraudulent chargebacks have increased 25 % overall, with airline and ticketing sectors particularly impacted. Chargebacks are taking slightly longer to process due to COVID-19 (on average, seven days longer) as issuers and merchants strive to maintain positive consumer experiences.  

“The vigilance and adaptability displayed by merchants as they evolve their fraud strategies in light of COVID-19 appears to have been rewarded by decreasing fraud rates,” said Guerra. 

“However, non-fraud chargebacks have risen 25 % and will continue to present a challenge, confirming the trend of friendly fraud we anticipated—especially for hard hit businesses in travel and ticketing—while these merchants overhaul credit and rebooking options, dispute resolution processes, supply chain visibility and customer communication channels,” she added.