Business

E-commerce grows 12% per week in Colombia, but still falls short of pre-Covid levels

Although tourism has impacted digital sales, retail is rising fast as people resume the purchase of more non-essential goods

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  • Tourism saw sales drop by 91%, but they have been partially offset by the big increases in categories such as retail (209%) and sports (187%);
  • Weekly online sales are 7% below pre-pandemic levels, but they are constantly increasing.

Colombia’s Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications and the Chamber of Electronic Commerce released the second report on online sales during the Covid-19 pandemic. In April and May sales saw a 12% increase every week, on average, but the pre-Covid figures have not yet been reached, mainly due to the sharp drop seen in the tourism category, according to La Republica.

From February 23 to 29, before the restrictive measures were taken, sales amounted to COP 536 billions ($141.5 millions). Once the quarantine was announced in March, they decreased to COP 286 billion ($75.5 millions) and in the week between May 3 and 9 they increased to COP 496 billion ($131 millions).

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“As tourism fell, there was also an impact on total sales in e-commerce. However, if the figure for February is compared to May, sales have been increasing even without that sector, so when tourism returns, we will see exponential growth,” said Álvaro Morales, head of economic analysis at the Chamber of E-Commerce, to the news outlet.

Tourism saw sales drop by 91%, but they have been partially offset by the big increases in categories such as retail (209%), sports (187%), education (142%), health (103%) and technology (96%).

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“Before, e-commerce grew 20% a year. Now that same number is being reached every two weeks. The important thing is that many Colombians made their first transaction during the quarantine, which will result in a structural change for e-commerce in the future. More and more companies will develop digital channels” Morales told La Republica.

Regarding the average ticket, there was also a recovery. In the week of February 23-29 it was COP 127,000 ($34), then when the Covid came to the country it fell to COP 84,827 ($22.50) and in May it bumped back to $118,759 ($31.50). Since the end of March average tickets started to rise again once people resumed buying non-essential goods, which may be seen in the increase in categories such as sports and technology.

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“It is good news for the sector and it shows us that e-commerce is a solid tool that has allowed entrepreneurs to continue operating, and citizens to acquire the goods and services necessary to carry out their activities,” said Karen Abudinen, Minister of Information Technologies and Communications.

Regarding the number of transactions, in the week from May 3 to 9, 4.17 million operations were recorded online, a level close to that of 4.22 million in February.

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In this way, with the gradual reopening of firms, Colombians have more certainty about what will happen to the economy, and the bulk of consumption will also improve, making e-commerce even more important.