Projected shocks in the United States for 2020: e-commerce and trade in general


The unprecedented social and economic disruption that impacted all areas of life in the United States in 2020 also skewed many of our pre-pandemic forecasts. Valuable insights can be gleaned by looking at the difference between what we thought would happen in February 2020 and what we now expect for this year and years to come.

Due to widespread business closures and quarantine-related personal restrictions, US consumers have massively reduced their spending on services and entertainment this year (restaurants, bars, lounges, travel, events, education, etc.). This in turn led to a surprisingly high result for spending on some retail goods, as households used the suddenly available cash to splurge on consumer electronics, home furnishings, groceries and a range of other products. Much of this spending took place online.

Perhaps the most important digital story of 2020, the widespread adoption of e-commerce during the pandemic unexpectedly accelerated the chain’s progress by almost two years. In January, we forecast total e-commerce sales to be $674.88 billion in 2020; now we have that higher figure of more than $100 billion, at $794.50 billion. On the other hand, in-person shopping has taken a huge hit.

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