Mastercard SpendingPulse: Estimated $53 Billion in Additional U.S. E-Commerce Sales as Pandemic Drives Consumers Online in April and May

June 10, 2020 | Purchase, NY

New Recovery Insights Report Spotlights the Impacts of COVID-19 

Consumer spending appears to be normalizing in a number of markets, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse1, which tracks overall retail sales across all payment types, including cash and check. To dig into this further, Mastercard today released the first report in its Recovery Insights series, which sheds light on the impacts of the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, including the incredible growth of online shopping.

In the U.S., per Mastercard SpendingPulse, total retail sales for May saw a marked improvement from April (-5.6% ex-auto year over year compared with -14.1%, respectively) as some states started the reopening process and stimulus funds continued to buoy consumer spending. Meanwhile, U.S. e-commerce sales, per Mastercard SpendingPulse, were up 92.7 percent in May, underscoring the broader shift to digital in how we work, live and shop. Note that e-commerce follows the Census definition*. 

While the shift to digital has not been universal or consistent – due to geographical, economic, and household differences – there are a number of key overarching trends: 

  • E-commerce doubles in share of sales. In the U.S., e-commerce in April and May made up 22 percent of all retail sales, up from 11 percent in 2019. Another way to put it? More money was spent online in the U.S. during that period than the last 12 Cyber Mondays combined.
  • The $53B boost. In April-May, more than $53 billion of incremental spending occurred on e-commerce channels in the U.S. This comparison is based on the typical e-commerce growth rate and e-commerce sales for the same period in 2019.
  • Nesting drives home improvements. In May, U.S. hardware sales across online and in-store were up 36.2 percent compared to 2019. In addition, furniture sales grew 7.5 percent year-over-year in May, the strongest growth rate for the sector since August 2018. 
  • Wants vs. Needs. In the U.S., demand for groceries remains elevated, with sales up 9.2 percent year-over-year in May across online and in-store. This is the strongest grocery sales volume for the month of May in SpendingPulse history. The focus on necessities is also highlighted by our U.K. estimates for April, when e-commerce spending on groceries increased 64 percent year-on-year vs. 16 percent year-on-year for luxury. 
  • E-commerce around the world. Globally, we’ve also seen some redistribution of sales away from brick and mortar into online channels after the onset of the outbreak. In April and May 2020, e-commerce as a share of total retail sales reached 33 percent in the U.K. – an unprecedented high (ex. auto, petrol, and restaurants). 

“The shift to digital ways of shopping has been undeniable, while everything else has been incredibly unpredictable,” says Steve Sadove, Mastercard senior advisor and former CEO of Saks. “The question is what changes will stick around for the long-term. Investing in your home and shopping local are two recent trends. Heightened demand for touchless services is another, which could have tremendous impact on what stores actually look like and how they blend their online and brick and mortar footprints.”

Mastercard has been committed to helping retailers, restaurants, CPG brands and many others navigate the challenges of the pandemic – and now the recovery. This has included making certain insight-driven tools available at no cost to governments and small businesses to give a timely snapshot of economic performance during this time. Having the ability to make informed decisions is critical to the long-term success of companies, communities and individuals around the world.


1About Mastercard SpendingPulse

Mastercard SpendingPulse™ reports on national retail sales across all payment types in select markets around the world. The findings are based on aggregate sales activity in the Mastercard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and check. As such, SpendingPulse™ insights do not in any way contain, reflect or relate to actual Mastercard operational or financial performance, or specific payment-card-issuer data.

*E-commerce sales are sales of goods and services where the buyer places an order, or the price and terms of the sale are negotiated over an Internet, mobile device (M-commerce), extranet, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) network, electronic mail, or other comparable online system. Payment may or may not be made online. 

About Mastercard Recovery Insights 

Mastercard launched Recovery Insights to help businesses and governments better manage the health, safety and economic risks presented by COVID-19. The initiative draws on Mastercard's analytics and experimentation platforms, its longstanding consulting practice and unique data-driven insights to deliver relevant and timely tools, innovation and research.  

About Mastercard (NYSE:MA)

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.