What Consumers Bought, What They Didn’t Buy, and What Changed: March 2020

Tzipi Avioz - April 7, 2020

Consumer behaviors have changed dramatically over the weeks in 2020, pushing retailers to be agile and flexible to offer the products that meet their needs. Marketplace operators were working with their seller networks to quickly respond to demand, and Mirakl marketplace data showed that it was working: in the past few weeks, consumers were spending more than ever on online marketplaces. Here are some of the trends we saw on Mirakl-powered Marketplaces in March.

Note: wherever we compare year-over-year growth to “pre-coronavirus levels,” we are comparing the last two weeks of March to February, unless otherwise indicated.

Spotlight on online grocery

With “stay-at-home” measures in place and low stock in grocery stores, consumers were instead going online to get their groceries, with many placing online grocery orders for the first time. This is an area where orders have exploded: year-over-year growth for grocery has jumped by 27X. Trending items include both dry goods, like rice, pasta, & emergency food supply kits, and fresh groceries, including vegetables and meats.

Now trending: health-conscious, home-centric spending


Health & beauty was experiencing 2-3X growth during the coronavirus pandemic. Essentials (shampoo, conditioner, body wash), at-home treatments (face and hair masks, at-home spa devices, nail polish) and relaxation (massage chairs, essential oil diffusers) are taking precedence over makeup and hair products.

Consumers were spending more time at home, and they were making upgrades: we saw 1.5X growth in DIY and home improvement with mattresses, large appliances like freezers & washing machines, and small appliances like blenders all ranking high. Don’t forget about outdoor space – barbecues and outdoor furniture also made it on the list.

While the sports category was actually trending slightly downwards prior to the coronavirus, we’ve seen the category grow by upwards of 200%, driven by at-home fitness purchases like stationary bikes, treadmills, and dumbbells.

Consumer electronics grew by 400% compared to pre-coronavirus levels, with buyers investing in laptops, monitors, and smartphones for remote work. Entertainment needs were driving growth in TVs and gaming console. This also extends to toys, games, and books, which were growing at 8X the normal rate.

And finally – no surprise here – medicine and medical supplies were booming. These categories are seeing year-over-year growth 3X greater than pre-coronavirus levels.

Marketplaces are making up the difference for brick and mortar

For retailers who operate brick-and-mortar locations, eCommerce is becoming even more critical as they shutter their physical storefronts. These Mirakl customers are seeing an average of 2X growth compared to pre-coronavirus levels.

It’s a testament to the agility of marketplaces. Businesses that have eCommerce sites with strong seller networks are quickly adapting as demand fluctuates. They’re launching new categories and products to meet demand for everything from at-home fitness and consumer electronics to medical supplies. And while stores are closed, or otherwise can’t operate at normal levels, they’re growing their sales online.

March trends from across the eCommerce ecosystem

From Afterpay, a buy now, pay later financing provider, we had a glimpse into what the next month could look like. Their own projections suggested that sales of home decor and toys would start to slow, while fashion and beauty was on the rise.

Retail intelligence and software company Stackline published an infographic highlighting the fastest-growing and fastest-declining categories in eCommerce in March. Fast-growing categories were aligned to Mirakl-powered Marketplace trends, with groceries, toys, home exercise equipment, and electronics all ranking high. Fast-declining categories include luggage and suitcases (down 77%), cameras (down 64%), and bridal clothing & men’s formalwear (down 63% and 62%, respectively).

Subscribe to the Marketplace Strategy Blog for data and analysis on eCommerce trends, during the coronavirus crisis and beyond.

Tzipi Avioz,
Executive Vice President, Customer Success at Mirakl, Americas and APAC

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