In the wake of COVID-19, things in the ecommerce world are hanging in balance.

We’ve been encouraged by businesses and agencies in the Shopify ecosystem stepping up to pool their resources and talents to help more vulnerable store owners (e.g. see how Shopify is helping, as well as Offline2On, an initiative we’re involved with at Littledata).

But, since we’re analysts at heart, we wanted to take a closer look at recent sales trends among Shopify stores to see the impact COVID-19 is actually having on shopping behavior.

Shopping behavior during COVID-19

While some stores have seen a surge of shopping activity and orders, others have struggled to match their normal volume. With no end in sight to the global pandemic, many shoppers are choosing to be frugal with non-essential spending.

To find out how many Shopify stores were either surging or struggling to stay afloat, we broke down the data, week over week, from Q1 2020 (8 weeks total). We focused on:

  1. Order volume
  2. Average order value (AOV)

We chose these metrics in particular because they’re two of the strongest indicators of overall shopping behavior.

We sampled 200 Shopify stores from across 5 different industries:

  • Beauty
  • Food and drink
  • Health and fitness
  • Pets
  • Style and fashion

But before we drill down data by industry, let’s look at ecommerce as a whole.

Global ecommerce trends and observations

how covid-19 is affecting shopify stores across the world

While global ecommerce has experienced an increase in order volume over the past 2 months, you can see the recent, steady decline in AOV during the same period (though it has mostly remained unchanged since Feb).

It’s possible the spike in order volume is due to social distancing, as country after country institutes their own version of stay-at-home orders.

Interestingly, AOV’s decline could be due to shoppers squeezing their wallets a bit tighter during the pandemic. With uncertainty looming in just about every area of life, some marketers believe shoppers are more reluctant to spend more per order; they’re mostly sticking to “essential” purchases.

Shopify order volume & AOV by industry

The first graph below shows change in order volume by industry. The second graph illustrates changes by average order value, also segmented by industry.

how covid-19 is affecting Shopify order volume by store

shopify average order value by industry

Beauty

From the middle of February to now, the beauty industry seems to have leveled out in terms of orders. This is a pretty standard showing for beauty, which does not seem to be drastically affected by COVID-19 so far.

The beauty industry’s AOV may have seen an early drop, but has been steady since.

Food and drink

Food and drink likely experienced the rise in order volume the past few weeks due a the surge of worrisome shoppers; global uncertainty about the pandemic means grocery stores and supermarkets were packed for weeks as people stocked up as much as possible. Many subscription boxes (and meal replacement brands such as Soylent and Huel) have also seen a surge in order volume. However, the industry has hit a steep decline in the week since.

A slight increase in order value overall, but nothing alarming or surprising here.

Health and fitness

Similar to food and drink, health and fitness saw a spike in AOV a few weeks ago that has since led to a steady decline. With no end in sight to the pandemic, this may continue as people opt to do their workouts at home and spend less on non-essential nutrition supplements and apparel.

Pets

Interestingly, the pets industry sank into a trough through most of February and March in terms of order volume, but has remained steady in terms of AOV.

Style and fashion

Style and fashion is looking like the “trendiest” industry (bad pun, I know) since early February, with a sudden spike in order volume (about a month ago) followed by a sudden drop. Style and fashion stores may see a resurgence soon, but it’s too early to tell if this shopper behavior was due to COVID-19. As you can see, average order value has increased over the past few months in this space.

So what’s next?

Over the next few months, we’ll analyze the data from Q2 for a bigger picture of COVID-19’s affect on Shopify stores.

In the meantime, check out our benchmarks for Shopify stores and general website performance benchmarks. These tools are designed to help you gauge your site performance, as well as metrics like AOV, ecommerce conversion rate, mobile search bounce rate, server response time, and more.

Stay tuned for new Shopify data analysis soon!