For the first time in eight years of data, the number of online purchases has fallen. Figures from webshop sector organization, Thuiswinkel.org, show that in 2022 online sales shrank by 5 percent, by a total of €347 million online purchases, according to newspaper Het Parool.
“It’s correct to say that people are going street shopping more often and buying fewer products online,” admits director of Thuiswinkel.org, Marlene ten Ham. This behaviour is expected to continue in the first months of this year. “So far there is still a slow growth, but it’s harder with certain products. For example, in home and living shopping it’s a bit less, while online fashion continues to sell reasonably well. I expect this will continue for the rest of the year,” says Ten Ham.
On the other hand, due to the sharp increase of prices, the amount that the Dutch spend online still increased to 33.3 billion euros. This is 9 percent more than in 2021, reports Volkskrant newspaper. However, the Dutch received fewer products and services in return. According to Thuiswinkel.org, inflation was clearly felt during last year. Consumers spent about 15 percent more money per purchase. The figures include sales of retailers who are active on street shops as well as on the internet.
“We do see that the share of online spending is higher on average than in the 2020 Covid year,” says Ten Ham. During the Covid period, physical stores had to close their doors. Services such as amusement parks and concerts also had to be completely closed. Consumers were forced to order headphones, board games and other non-essential goods from online platforms. As a result, webshops saw their customer base increase exponentially.
However, for 2022 declining figures from web giants such as Bol.com and Coolblue showed that there are fewer online purchases made in the Netherlands. The electronics specialists ended up
in the red zone and will accelerate the opening of five physical stores. “The growth in online spending in 2020 and 2021 has turned into contraction. I believe this is because people ultimately want to meet, see each other, smell, feel and to touch. Good shops in good places will therefore always exist, in my view,” adds Ten Ham.
Physical stores are popular again
Now that the Covid period is over, consumers are visiting physical stores once again. The love for street shopping is on the rise. The Dutch made 13 percent of all their purchases online in 2021, but this number dropped to 12 percent last year. An interesting sector is food sales, where the Dutch spent on average slightly more online than in previous years. The increasing popularity of delivery services such as Picnic seems to play a major role in this.
“Online shopping remains popular in the Netherlands. The figures for 2022 are significantly higher than in the pre-Covid year of 2019, when a total of 26.2 billion was spent online. That proves that e-commerce is here to stay, but combined with street shopping,” says Ten Ham. According to the Thuiswinkel.org director, online spending last year was mainly on events and attractions, and on travel-related purchases.
Dirk Mulder, retail specialist at ING, tells Volkskrant he is not surprised by the decrease in the number of online purchases. According to him, online sales grew to unnatural heights due to the Covid measures. “The only question left was when a correction was going to take place. That moment now seems to have arrived,” he explains. Still, the figures are not representative for the coming years, thinks Mulder. “People thought: it’s possible again, we can go outside. This led to a temporary peak in street shopping. The numbers for physical expenses will start to level off at some point. The growth of online spending will also slowly increase and continue.”
Written by Raphael Perachi Vieira