Online shopping prices have rapidly increased since the start of the pandemic as consumers rely more on e-commerce, according to an industry report.
While e-commerce prices trended downward between 2015-2019 as online shopping grew in popularity, the sector has seen unprecedented increases over the last year, the report published by Adobe Digital Insights on Wednesday found. At the same time, consumers are spending more purchasing goods and food online than ever before.
“In addition to notable categories such as apparel and home furnishings, consumers continue to see prices rise online for everyday goods such as groceries, pet products, and personal care,” Adobe Digital Insights lead analyst Vivek Pandya said in a statement.
“We are entering new territory where the dynamics of the online world has greater implications for consumers, policymakers, and business leaders,” he continued. “Categories that once had a minor presence in e-commerce are now becoming staples, with unprecedented pricing trends that no longer hold down overall inflation.”
Online prices have increased for 15 consecutive months and at a rate of 3.1% over the 12-month period between September 2020 and August, according to Adobe. As a comparison, prices decreased at an average rate of 3.9% per year between 2015-2019.
Of the 18 e-commerce categories tracked by Adobe, just one category – books – experienced price decreases relative to the pre-pandemic period, the report found.
Apparel prices, which decreased at an annual rate of 1.1% before the pandemic, have skyrocketed 15.5% in the last year. Medical equipment and supplies surged 3.2% over the last year compared to the category’s average annual decrease of 1.1% before the pandemic.
Americans are also spending more online than in recent years, according the the report. U.S. consumers spent $541 billion between January and August, 9% more than the same period in 2020 and a whopping 58% more than the period in 2019.
E-commerce currently represents about 13.3% of all purchases in the U.S., according to the most recent data from the Census Bureau.
Meanwhile, overall inflation has hit multi-decade highs since the spring. The consumer price index, a key measurement of inflation, surged at an annual rate of 5.3% in August, higher than the Federal Reserve’s baseline 2% target rate.
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