Covid-19: Elderly consumers set to drive eCommerce market post-crisis

The older generation (aged 65+) are likely to be major drivers of eCommerce growth in the short to medium-term, according to a new study by Mintel.

This surprising finding is due to a variety of factors: ongoing concern over exposure to Covid-19, getting accustomed to online shopping during lockdown and the ability to make more discretionary purchases than younger people post-crisis.

The survey of 2,000 internet users aged 16+ revealed there has been a huge shift to digital spending by those aged 65+ in recent months. Mintel found that 43% of those in this age group have shopped more online since the start of the crisis, compared to 42% amongst all adults. In comparison, back in May 2019, just 16% of those aged 65+ shopped online at least once a week.

And older people are likely to continue undertaking more of their shopping via the internet, with 56% of those aged 65+ worried/extremely worried about being exposed to the virus; this compares to just 40% of 16-24-year olds.

The economic impact of Covid-19 is also set to be more damaging to younger consumers, with Generation Z and Millennials in particular likely to be more vulnerable to unemployment. In the study, around four in 10 (38%) of those aged 16-34 are cutting back on non-essential purchases, compared to 31% of over 65s.

Francesco Salau, Mintel research analyst, commented: “A generational divide will arise as a result of Covid-19. Many older consumers have been forced to engage with online retailing, as they’re part of the population especially at risk from the pandemic.

“While Gen Z and Millennial consumers are likely to continue to be the driving forces of the market as the leading online shoppers, they will also be more likely to be cutting back on non-essential spending than older groups. As a result, online retailers, and indeed courier services, are more likely to rely on new business from older consumers in the short to medium-term.”

Yesterday, the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index showed that eCommerce sales grew 34% year-on-year in June 2020 – the highest growth rate reported since March 2008.

Photo credit (iStock): markos86