One year and a half after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and consecutive lockdowns and restrictions, many people have been eager to get back to normal, a wish that is in parts becoming a reality. In fact, with the summer months and the vaccinations accelerating around the world, most of the economy in many countries has reopened and restrictions have been eased in many places.
Despite the recent surges of the Delta variation in parts of the world, many people have returned to a life largely similar to pre-pandemic times. However, it might be wiser to talk about the New Normal as it seems many changes the pandemic brought will not fade away anytime soon.
At the time of writing (mid-August 2021), lockdowns are not a thing of the past everywhere. Actually, a few places around the world still have their populations quarantine because of local COVID-19 outbreaks… Such places include countries like Iran, Australia as well as the French territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe, or cities like Da Nang City in Vietnam. However, not every country decides on a full lockdown when facing the resurgence of cases. For example, some places like Beijing and other Chinese major cities decided to impose widespread movement restrictions as well as extending strict social distancing measures. In any case, we cannot really say that the world is back to pre-Covid normalcy. The New Normal era that we just entered looks like a world where people are trying to cohabitate with the virus, for lack of anything better. It is maybe time to acknowledge there are a variety of aspects of our lives that will likely never "return to normal,” and the way we shop is one of them. Let’s not forget that more consumers have shifted to online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic than ever before. Let’s not forget that the physical economy went digital in order to survive with retailers having to undergo a digital transformation of their businesses. Let’s not forget that a lot of people ordered food online for the first time and that first-time online shoppers also showed up at an unprecedented rate everywhere around the world, and especially in emerging markets. Let’s not forget that consumers became more digitally adept than before, with older generations getting more comfortable with digital tools and services. Let’s not forget that international cross-border eCommerce also grew substantially in 2020 with consumers being more inclined to purchase from vendors outside of their home country. Finally and probably most importantly, let’s not forget that 74% of European consumers said they would stick to their pandemic online shopping levels, and would not reduce their eCommerce activities now that they can shop offline again. With the summer months, the holidays, and people eager to enjoy their newly found favorite outdoor activities, some seasonality in eCommerce sales is to be expected. But overall, the shift to eCommerce is here to stay.
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