The “New Normal” in E-commerce Looks Familiar

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The peaks and valleys of the holiday shopping traffic pattern we've seen so far in 2021 more closely resembles 2019 — not 2020. 

In the graph below, the days of the week for 2021 and 2019 are aligned to compare the similarities in the traffic patterns. Current online traffic (blue line) is about 100% higher than we experienced in 2019 (orange line).

A graph comparing online sales trends in 2021 and 2019.

Based on the above graph, we should see traffic drop very slightly through Christmas. The biggest impact on sales will be a steady decrease in the percentage of those online customers who complete an online transaction (e-commerce conversion rate). This is illustrated in the e-commerce conversion graphs for 2021 and 2019 below. Based on the 2019 pattern, we should begin to see the 2021 conversion rate start to decline this week.

A graph comparing online sales trends in 2021 and 2019.

It’s interesting that we are seeing the return of a pre-COVID traffic pattern. Yes, the pattern is similar to 2019, but the big differences are that 2021 holiday traffic is 100% higher and those customers are completing more online purchases. If the return to an old traffic pattern turns out to also be the “new normal,” this is very encouraging for online bookselling in 2022.