It’s been six months since we last explored how the COVID-19 pandemic has forced changes in consumer behaviour and shifted retail and ecommerce trends. With restrictions now eased and the vital Christmas shopping period just around the corner, now is the perfect time to dive back into the numbers to get a clear idea of how the landscape sits today.
TikTok is a mixed bag for advertisers
It seemed that barely a headline passed during lockdown without viral video sharing app TikTok being mentioned. It went on to be one of the most downloaded apps of the year but that hasn’t necessarily transitioned into commercial success (yet).
While TikTok is increasing its advertising options to monetise this new customer base, a new survey by Kantar has revealed that marketers consider TikTok to be the least trustworthy digital environment, although the same survey also had TikTok outperforming the likes of Amazon, Instagram and Google to claim the top spot in the global ad equity league.
Digital ad spend on course for a record end to the year
Digital advertising spend has grown to record new levels in 2021, with the UK on course to close out the year with a 18.2% increase. In total, brands are expected to have spent £27.7 billion in digital advertising over the course of the year, with the vast majority coming in the period June-December after lockdown restrictions were finally lifted. This increase comes in contrast to the £1.8 billion decline reported in 2020, showing that brands have quickly embraced digital activation this year.
Data from Travel Weekly shows that travel brands – one of the hardest hit sectors – have also ramped up their spending, with Expedia, Disney and Airbnb the biggest spenders.
While TikTok hasn’t been able to nurture trust with advertisers, Facebook has – it was the social network of choice for paid ad spend for travel advertisers during the peak May-August travel window.
Online retail sales going strong
The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that online retail continues to go from strength to strength, even as bricks and mortar sales slow. According to ONS data, retail sales online accounted for 27.7% of sales in August. This compares with 27.1% in July and the 19.7% recorded just before the pandemic hit, in February 2020.
Overall retail sales declined by 0.9% in August compared with the previous month but sales volumes remained 4.6% higher than pre-pandemic figures.
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