Poland’s e-commerce market is booming amid pandemic

As destructive as the COVID-19 pandemic was for global markets and the world’s supply chains, it had a positive influence on the e-commerce market in Poland which recorded 400-percent growth, “Rzeczpospolita” daily reported on Monday.

The e-commerce market recorded a staggering spike in grocery e-shopping, which many Poles found the safest way to stock up on essentials during the state of epidemic in Poland.

The daily also wrote that Polish companies launched almost 1,700 new e-shops following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Grzegorz Plich, CEO of VRG, a leading group in high-quality fashion, the e-commerce market has seen double-digit growth in previous years. "This year may be exceptional, as, during the pandemic, Poles went shopping online. Many companies were flooded with orders. Internet sales doubled during this period," he added.

Bisnode, a company which deals in digital business, said that over 60 percent of internet users shopped online during the pandemic and that this year's result will certainly be much higher, even if only some of the new buyers continue shopping online.

However, the growth in online sales is not enough for clothing companies to cover the losses of physical stores. The smallest drop in store traffic was noted in smaller cities, down by 10-15 percent, while the largest cities, those with over 500,000 residents, recorded a 50-percent drop in store traffic.

Over a week ago, Deputy PM Jadwiga Emilewicz stated that trade needed to be analysed for a month after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in order to discuss abolishing the Sunday trading ban. She also added that online sales “were responsible for 5-6 percent of trade before the pandemic, and have risen to 20 percent in five weeks, so we are seeing a shift in consumer sentiment.”

Nearly three-quarters of Poland’s 100,000 retail shops are grocery stores and out of that number there are just over 8,000 large format stores - supermarkets and hypermarkets, the Polish Economic Institute reported in mid-March. The largest stores alone are responsible for 55 percent of all trade. These chain stores are the savviest when it comes to offering integrated sales - on-site, pick-up and delivery, according to the analysts.

Meanwhile, the smallest stores, those which have a floorspace of up to 99 sqm and employ up to nine employees are responsible for 30 percent of the total sales. While that is an impressive statistic compared to western European markets, only one-fifth of these smallest stores have an internet strategy. The middle ranking stores, up to 400 sqm, are slightly better in this regard as just under a third of them are e-ready.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, online retail platforms marked a noticeable upward curve in March 2020 worldwide. Germany’s statistics and data collecting website “Statista” reported in May that the online retail sector had “undergone a six percent increase in global traffic between January and March 2020. Overall, retail websites generated 14.34 billion visits in March 2020, up from 12.81 billion global visits in January 2020.”

The site attributed the phenomenon to the fact that millions of people were forced to stay at home in order to curb the proliferation of coronavirus. This required individuals to procure everyday items such as groceries or toilet paper online.