Back to Top

What’s Next? | Impact of Stores Re-Opening on eCommerce | Infinity Nation

As the UK progresses and moves closer to normality, eCommerce retailers are all wondering what lies ahead for them, and what the impact will be on stores reopening in the incredible growth seen over the last 12 months?

19th May 2021
Stacey Wilson Chief Operating Officer 19th May 2021

Will eCommerce continue to reign in 2021? 

Back in 2020, retailers celebrated their eCommerce counterparts. Businesses from particular retail sectors such as homewares and fashion retail were thriving, whilst other were barely surviving. However, many of those who made it through the lockdowns have pivoted their strategies towards direct to consumer (D2C) sales acquisition. 

A month on from the re-opening of non-essential retail and it’s fair to say that our clients have seen a mixed response to their online sales figures as a result. This blog drills down into some of the key insights.

So what do we know? 

While many CMOs are scratching the prospect of forecasting, coming out of a covid year, there are some known factors to consider: 

  1. eCommerce is here to stay 
  2. Last year, the ONS reported that ecommerce was responsible for 33.4% of all retail sales in the UK. This was recorded in its peak month; May 2020. 

    While that share is likely to drop this year, our clients are confident in forecasting larger online marketing budgets in their now-proven channels. 

  3. UK internet users have spent an extra day per month online so far in 2021 
  4. We love reaching for our phones to settle an argument, add something to our online shop, set a reminder… So it’s no surprise to learn that mobile internet use has seen growth levels of 29%.

  5. More people are back to work 
  6. With non-essential retail stores re-opening on 12th April 2021, comes more opportunity for retail food outlets, and the high street to bounce back. More people in workplaces means more High Street footfall and more commuters, which when combined with lower positive case numbers, leads to increased confidence in popping into a bricks and mortar store. 

What does the data say? 

Analysis across our client base has shown that in the main, eCommerce growth is levelling off, but staying at much higher levels than pre-covid. 

Overlaying the key covid impact dates over the last year, it is clear that different sectors have experienced varying outcomes to the government ‘steps’ to exit covid.

Key dates:




Garden centres and selected retail outlets permitted to re-open 

13th May 

12th April 

Non-essential Retail permitted to reopen 

15th June 

12th April 

Restaurants and Indoor Venues permitted to reopen under restrictions 

4th July 

17th May 


We grouped our eCommerce client base into 6 sectors: Food & Drink, Homewares, Apparel, Luxury Fashion, Pet Food and Furniture. 

Reviewing 2021, in every sector, a decrease in conversion rate was seen during the week of non-essential retail opening, and the following week. 

Sessions were more of a mixed bag, but looking at the data set overall, Sessions increased during the week of non-essential retail reopening and then decreased in the week that followed (w/c 18th April 2021) 

Summary by sector: winners and losers comparing the week of non-essential reopening and the week following: 



Conversion Rate 


w/c 11/4/21 

w/c 18/4/21 

w/c 11/4/21 

w/c 18/4/21 

Food & Drink 















Luxury Fashion 





Pet Food 










Average Change 






In many cases, sessions dropped w/c 11th April but food and drink, homewares and furniture were hit the hardest with big drops in site conversion rate. 

Looking back at 2020, when non-essential retail and pubs opened on 4th July, we can see a different trend. The impact on eCommerce was minimal, with average sessions and conversion rate changes up overall: 



Conversion Rate 


w/c 05/7/20 

w/c 12/07/20 

w/c 05/7/20 

w/c 12/07/20 

Food & Drink 















Luxury Fashion 





Pet Food 










Average Change 






An explanation could be that things were a lot less uncertain last year. Many felt that the government had moved too quickly with the reopening of pubs and restaurants and consumers were less inclined to flock to the shops. 

Eat out to help out schemes were initiated to encourage the public out to restaurants and help the hospitality industry. 

Almost a year on and the prolonged effects of restricted lives are being felt, encouraging consumers back to the high street and pubs and restaurants, and it looks like the public are more than willing to go out and spend! 

So will eCommerce suffer longer term? 

We can’t accurately predict or forecast the next few months for clients, but based on a limited data set in the weeks since non-essential retail has re-opened, things are looking up. Site sessions are recovering, along with conversion rate for most eCommerce sectors. 

What we are clear on, is that to sustain strong growth, brands must understand that the customers they acquired in lockdown differ from the rest of their customer base. Those that adapt their marketing strategies accordingly can nurture meaningful relationships that continue to deliver value in the times ahead. 

If you are interested in working with Infinity Nation and discover how we can help with eCommerce growth, please get in touch!


Interested in working with INFINITY NATION to create a successful digital experience for your company or product?
Get in touch to set up a meeting with our team.