Bevh: Ukraine war slows down German online trade

The total sales of German online retailers continued to grow in the first quarter of 2022. This emerges from a survey, the results of which were published by the Federal Association of E-Commerce and Mail Order Germany eV (Bevh) on Monday. However, the industry organization saw a clear turning point with the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine: After February 24, demand in online retail fell significantly, and in some categories sales have since been below the corresponding level of the previous year.

According to the Bevh, e-commerce sales with goods in Germany reached a level of 22.8 billion euros in the months of January to March. It was 8.2 percent above the same quarter of the previous year. The growth rate was 11.5 percent up until the beginning of the war, and then only 2.3 percent, the association said.

Online clothing sales have been falling since the Russian invasion

Online retailers of clothing felt the effects of the crisis severely: up to February 24, they had achieved an 11.4 percent increase in sales, but after that sales fell 6.8 percent short of the previous year’s level. Overall, quarterly sales in this category, at EUR 4.14 billion, were 4.8 percent above the comparative figure for the previous year.

E-commerce revenues from house and home textiles reached EUR 522 million and exceeded the previous year’s level by 12.7 percent. Sales of shoes from January to March amounted to 1.13 billion euros. Due to a slump in demand after the beginning of the war (-14.8 percent), it fell short of the corresponding prior-year figure by 1.9 percent.

The “full extent of consumer uncertainty” is not yet foreseeable

“Looking at the quarter as a whole, customers continued to shop in e-commerce. Neither are fewer people shopping on the Internet now, nor can it be observed that individual age groups or low-income people have changed their shopping behavior in online retail,” explained Martin Groß-Albenhausen, Deputy General Manager of the Bevh, in a statement. “The full extent of the consumer uncertainty – due to the acts of war with their foreseeable effects on the economy and employment, on prices and supply also in Germany – will only be able to be traced in detail in the coming months using market research tools.”

Groß-Albenhausen also referred to significant differences within the industry: “There are companies that are suppliers of urgently needed goods and therefore experience more demand, and those whose product range currently seems hardly relevant to people,” he emphasized. “This situation, which is difficult to plan, is made more difficult by noticeable disruptions in replenishment and the unchecked increase in costs for numerous raw materials, for transport services, packaging, energy or other operating costs.”