Online spending soared 54% in February, signaling a permanent shift in Americans’ shopping habits, Mastercard says

Online shopping
  • Ecommerce a 54% increase in February compared last year, Mastercard said.
  • Online apparel and jewelry sales rose 75% and 63% last month from 2020, CNBC reported.
  • The “e-commerce muscle” built in the pandemic is “here to stay,” Mastercard executive says.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Online sales jumped 54% in February from a year ago – a month before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the US.

The pandemic forced e-commerce adoption to accelerate by about two years, Linda Kirkpatrick, president of North America at Mastercard, told CNBC on Tuesday.

Consumers have “really built a digital commerce muscle that we believe is here to stay,” she said.

Online apparel sales now account for about three-fourths of all clothing purchases in the US, Kirkpatrick said, noting that’s a 47% jump from a year ago. Online jewelry sales have also seen a bump, rising 63% year-over-year, CNBC reported.

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Retailers were largely forced to move much of their operations online when the pandemic hit, and many brick-and-mortar stores closed their doors as people hunkered down at home. Data from ESET, a global cybersecurity company, shows 70% more consumers are shopping online as a result of the pandemic. Because of the new surge in digital shopping, half of retailers are planning a digital makeover to help meet customers where they are — online.

Simeon Siegel, a senior analyst at BMO Capital Markets, told Business Insider previously that retailers will be on a “constant hunt to best optimize the e-commerce experience,” going forward. He noted, however, there will always be a place for brick-and-mortar stores, even amid the acceleration in digital shopping.

Now, with the third round of stimulus payments on the horizon, Kirkpatrick said spending volumes are likely to increase again as they have in the past. “There’s a lot of pent up demand right now for spend,” she said. “Consumers will leverage their payments to get back to their lives.”