The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is impacting every part of our lives, from the places we can go to the way we spend our time, to the priorities we have and the way we spend our money.

Of course, this has wide-ranging ramifications for marketing, advertising and ecommerce – as well as a number of other sectors like travel, entertainment and FMCG.

To help marketers keep on top of what this means for them, their jobs and their industry, we’re collecting together the most valuable and impactful stats in this roundup, updated on a weekly basis since 20th March.

Read on for statistics on retail sales, adspend, streaming subscriptions, social media use, recruitment figures and much, much more.


Retail, ecommerce & FMCG

ASOS UK sales up 18% year-on-year

ASOS UK sales have risen by 18% year-on-year to £1.18bn, according to the brand’s full year financial statement ending August 31st 2020. International retails, which include the European, US and ROW regions performed even higher at +20% during the same period.

The statement also revealed that the company has seen a 3.1 million rise in its active customer base, which now totals 23.4 million across the world, reflecting increased brand engagement spurred on by the pandemic.

This news comes despite issues with the retailer’s supply chain when Covid-19 first hit, as well as huge volatility in sales across the fashion sector throughout the spring when lockdowns were enforced on much of the Western world. The brand also said it continues to remain cautious about the financial impact the crisis is having on its core 20-something customer base, which could affect sales and basket sizes over the festive period and in the longer term.

Nick Beighton, ASOS CEO, added to the statement: “I am pleased by the improvements we have made this year but there is still more for us to do to continue our progress. Whilst life for our 20-something customers is unlikely to return to normal for quite some time, ASOS will continue to engage, respond and adapt as one of the few truly global leaders in online fashion retail.”

71% of British consumers are reluctant to shop in store this Christmas

Research from Klarna and Retail Economics has found 71% of British consumers are reluctant to shop in store in the lead up to Christmas, which will likely increase the amount they spend online even further over the coming months. Indeed, 56% say they expect to do more online shopping this year than then have in previous years.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents claim they will actively avoid physical retail spaces ‘as much as possible’ during the festive period and instead Christmas shopping is set to be brought forward by consumers, one third of whom hope to bag a bargain at the Black Friday sales in November.

However, more than one third (36%) predict that they will need to cut back on their festive spending this year in light of financial difficulties brought about by the pandemic, which could explain why consumers are starting earlier than usual in the hopes of spreading the cost. In contrast, just 12% want to spend more.

More than three quarters of those surveyed say they will rely on personal finances to get them through the Christmas period, rather than taking on debt in this uncertain time. As a result, the research suggests more than twice as many people would prefer to use delayed repayment methods, like Klarna, to cope with the financial strains of Christmas this year.

80% of brands do not have a loyalty programme in their marketing strategy

Despite droves of online shoppers switching between brands this year, as many as 80% of organisations still do not have loyalty programmes integrated into their marketing strategies, new research from Dotdigital confirms.

A further 43% of companies with an ecommerce arm fail to collect enough key customer data, such as date of birth, to offer them crucial personalised messaging, while 40% admitted they don’t publish post-purchase reviews – a key purchase driver. An additional two-thirds of those surveyed failed to send editorial marketing communications, which help to highlight the value of a brand and its products.

Consequently, numerous companies are missing out on the opportunity to acquire repeat online business from these new customers, whether from lack of loyalty to a brand, irrelevant content or not enough social proof on display from past shoppers.

According to the data, 38% of consumers are keen to acquire brand credit with actions outside of buying products, for example writing reviews or interacting with social accounts. Interestingly, thirty-nine percent only consider themselves ‘loyal’ to a company after completing a fifth purchase, but with the majority of brands not making the effort to incentivise engagement, they have little reason to stick around.

International online sales of luxury goods increased by 170% year-on-year in August and September

International online sales of luxury goods increased by 170% year-on-year in August and September, according to analysis from eShopWorld.

As retail begins its slow recovery on a global scale, the cross-border luxury market appears to be faring well following sales performance in July that was 40% above those seen in the lead up to Christmas last year (a period which is usually the strongest in the calendar alongside new year discounts).

Luxury has been one of the most hard-hit sectors of the industry as consumers rein in their spending and focus on essential items throughout the pandemic. The closure of physical stores, as well as shoppers’ reluctance to splash out and other unpredictable online behaviours has caused experts to predict drops of 40-60% in experiential luxury and 25%-45% in personal luxury sales year-on-year.

Despite this gloomy outlook, the late summer growth figures indicate that brands are altering their marketing strategies to prioritise digital, thereby bringing luxury online experiences to those outside of their usual domestic markets. CEO of eShopWorld, Tommy Kelly, explained, “In the current climate, there is incredible opportunity for luxury beyond the traditional channels and markets, particularly as older shoppers have become more comfortable with online, while digital natives are, of course, already there.”

Tesco’s pre-tax profit surges 28.7% year-on-year

Tesco’s 2020/21 interim results have indicated a 28.7% year-on-year surge in pre-tax profits for the company in what has been a landmark year for the grocery sector.

Food sales rose by 9.2% in the 26 weeks to the end of August, but interest in its clothing line F&F fell, resulting in a 17.2% drop in sales for this category. Average basket size in large stores grew by 56%. Unsurprisingly, fuel sales fell by 42% on 2019 as the general public were encouraged to stay at home throughout national lockdown in spring and early summer. The brand also said it had so far spent £533 million on Covid-19 safety measures for its staff and customers throughout the pandemic.

Online delivery capacity doubled to 1.5 million weekly slots as a result of heightened demand at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK. It also revealed that it had served 674,000 vulnerable or shielding customers so far.

Meanwhile, operating profits fell by 15.6%, largely due to Tesco Bank which made a loss of £155 million during this period.

Tesco’s new Chief Executive, Ken Murphy said in a statement, “The first half of this year has tested our business in ways we had never imagined, and our colleagues have risen brilliantly to every challenge, acting in the best interests of our customers and local communities throughout.”

Tesco on experience and purpose during a pandemic

45% of UK shoppers care less about Black Friday this year than they did in previous years

Research from Havas Media Group has found that 45% of 1,500 UK shoppers it surveyed care less about Black Friday in 2020 than they did in previous years. This figure rises the most among those aged between 35 and 44 (49%).

However, despite so many claiming to care less, only 26% are planning on spending less than they usually would during the event this year, while 30% said they were hoping to spend the same amount. Just 8% revealed they bought something on Black Friday in 2019 but have decided that they won’t this year.

On the topic of shopping in store this Black Friday, a notable number (44%) of consumers disagreed with the statement, ‘I like checking out the deals in-store on Black Friday’, and less than one third (30%) agreed, indicating that shoppers could, unsurprisingly, stick mostly to online stores amid the continuing Covid-19 crisis.

When asked about the type of deals they would look for during the event, food and drink saw the largest increase in spending intent, rising 16% on last year. However, consumers are set to spend 29% less on fashion and footwear on Black Friday 2020 than they were in 2019 – the largest potential drop across all product categories analysed.

Ocado named 2020’s fastest-growing UK brand

BrandZ has named grocery chain Ocado as the UK’s fastest growing brand in its annual Top 75 Most Valuable Brands report.

The company jumped 16 places in the Top 75 list this year, following a 63.3% growth in brand value change since 2019, settling at number 18. Its online-only formula, unlike other brands in the sector which also have brick-and-mortar stores, places it in an excellent position for growth through digital innovation. According to the report, demand for its services during the peak of the pandemic was at 10 times it usual level for the time of year.

Others that have seen particularly fast growth this year also fall within the food category – Deliveroo, growing by 40% in brand value change this year, made number 29 on the list, while Just Eat grew by 19%, placing it just below Ocado at number 20.

Vodafone came out on top in the top 75 most valuable brands list, followed by HSBC, Shell, BP and BT, despite all of these brands measuring double-digit declines in brand value since last year. In fact, just 10 brands out of all 75 experienced growth overall, highlighting the massive impact Covid-19 has had on the majority of verticals. The rest saw declines or flat growth or were new to the list in 2020.

Daily average global ecommerce sales and traffic measure 7% and 3% higher respectively in August

After a 66% spike in global daily ecommerce sales in at the height of lockdown, analysis from Nosto suggests this has levelled off to an average 7% above levels recorded last year, as of early August. Ecommerce web traffic stabilised to +3%.

Conversion rates continued to look healthy, at around 6% up on August 2019, indicating that consumers land on ecommerce websites with a clear purpose and intent to buy, or that brands have improved their methods of persuasion. However, Average Order Values (AOV) declined by up to 3% as shoppers spent cautiously amid personal financial uncertainty.

The home and garden category was an enduring winner, still averaging a 28% year-on-year growth in global daily average sales by early August and 42% higher than sales recorded in March at the early stages of the pandemic. Meanwhile, fashion and accessories daily average sales were up 18% compared to March and traffic and conversion rates grew by 15% and 12% respectively over the same period.

Beauty and skincare, on the other hand, is facing large declines in these metrics after a significant jump in spring. Daily average traffic was down 11%, sales down 20% and conversion rates dipped by 5% on the start of the crisis. Where consumers previously had no choice but to purchase via online retailers during national lockdowns, perhaps many prefer to shop in person for such items now that stores have reopened.

7 factors that will shape ecommerce in the second half of 2020

Boohoo Group revenue grows 45% in the six months to August 31st

Amidst great uncertainty and volatility in the fashion sector since the coronavirus outbreak began, a Boohoo Group financial statement disclosed that the company’s revenue grew by 45% to £816.5 million in the six months ending August 31st. The group, which owns Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing, Nasty Gal, Oasis and Warehouse, now predicts total revenue growth for the year to February 2021 will be between 28%-32%, above previous estimates of 25%.

The US market appeared to be particularly keen on Boohoo’s offering, with revenue up 83% year-on-year between February and August across its brands, while the UK market saw a 37% growth.

This news comes a little over a month after controversy surrounding poor working conditions and low pay amongst its UK-based factory workers, raising further questions on the ethics and sustainability of fast fashion industry as a whole. If these recent financial results are anything to go by, it appears most of Boohoo’s customer base have been willing to overlook these issues in favour of low prices and a wide range of choice.

The group said it has taken action to improve the environment at their supply chains by conducting and publishing an independent review of conditions. It also confirmed that it had not participated in the government’s financial support schemes.

3 in 10 UK and US consumers have switched to brands that offer lower prices

Global Web Index’s latest Commerce report shares findings on a new spending mindset for consumers as the pandemic continues to disrupt everyday life across the world. In Q2 2020, 39% of internet users surveyed said they expect the economy in their region to get worse, up from just 19% in Q4 2019, and those that predict their personal financial situations will worsen doubled to 20% over the same period.

Consequently, consumers are becoming ever more wary of their spending habits and shifting their behaviour in an attempt to offset the impact they have already felt, or will feel, from the coronavirus. Three in ten respondents based in the UK and US said that they had switched to brands that offer lower prices, and 1 in 4 have used a price comparison website in the last four months.

When it comes to money saving online purchase drivers, free delivery ranked the highest globally (53%), followed by coupons and discounts (41%), customer reviews (35%) and an easy returns policy (33%). Interestingly, thirty percent of those that cite next-day delivery as a key purchase driver said they would accept a longer delivery time if it saved them money, marking a notable change in the way consumers value time and money since before the pandemic. Live-chat customer service, entry into competitions and the ability to use a ‘buy’ button on social media were the lowest rated purchase drivers.

Nike’s digital sales grew 82% year-on-year between June and August

In the quarter June to August, Nike saw digital sales grow by 82% year-on-year, counterbalancing lost revenues in store as footfall remains low, it said in a financial statement. Sales made through Nike Direct grew by $3.7 billion, or 12%. As a result, total revenues for the period reached $10.6 billion, down 1% on a reported basis.

Nike’s sales are growing throughout major markets like China, South Korea, Japan and the UK, but are declining in North America, its core audience. Overall, EMEA bounced back to a 5% growth, while sales in Greater China performed even better at 6%.

In a statement, Nike’s CEO John Donahoe said, ‘In this dynamic environment, no one can match our pace of launching innovative product and out Brand’s deep connection to consumers. These strengths, coupled with our digital acceleration, are unlocking Nike’s long-term market potential.’

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More than one third of US consumers are very likely to purchase a product from a brand offering a trial or at-home testing period

At a time when trying on clothes or using make up testers in-store has become highly restricted, 34% of US consumers are now very likely to purchase a product from a brand offering a trial or at-home testing period. An additional 32% were moderately likely to do so under these conditions, Bluecore and Dynata, have revealed in their research into shopper motives and preferences.

Another incentive that came out on top in the survey was free shipping, which was by far the most popular purchase driver among all age categories, particularly with more mature consumers. Seventy-nine percent of those aged 55 and over claimed free shipping was the most impactful incentive for them, while it was less compelling for younger generations, falling to 57% of 25-34 year olds and 52% of 18-24 year olds.

Meanwhile, young consumers found discounts much more impactful on their purchase decisions, which is perhaps reflective of the adverse impact Covid-19 has had on generations that are in higher education, graduating or in entry-level jobs. According to the data, thirty-seven percent of 18-24 year olds found price reductions to be an impactful incentive compared to just 18% of 55+ year olds. Other motivations like membership benefits and referral rewards were much less popular with respondents, cited by between just 3% and 8% of consumers across all age groups.

Europe saw a 35% rise in ecommerce app installs during the peak of the coronavirus outbreak

Detailed analytics from AppsFlyer have found a 35% rise in European ecommerce mobile app installs during local lockdowns in March and April, 12% higher than at the peak of the Q4 2019 holiday rush. The research saw this trend repeat itself across other metrics, with consumer behaviour, impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak, outshining last year’s ‘golden quarter’ again and again.

The data found a 61% increase in European non-organic installs between November 2019 and June 2020, and a further 56% growth between February and May of this year alone. Meanwhile, in-app sessions grew by 25% across Europe during the peak of the outbreak in the region (Feb-April), rising to 33% in the UK during its equivalent (and slightly later) peak between March and June. In the months of May and June 2020 there was an 11% increase in the share of buying users (UK) compared to the Q4 2019 rush months of November and December.

These findings, combined with a 36% growth in average revenue per European app user between November last year and April this year, prove that this year’s holiday period is set to be unlike any other experienced when it comes to shopping via apps and other digital platforms. So far, brands that have invested in in-app advertising have seen strong results, particularly among apps run by established retail brands with a brick and mortar presence.

51% of global holiday shoppers plan to shop locally during the 2020 holiday period

Rakuten’s latest report, The Road to Recovery: 2020 shopping peaks reimagined, suggests that 51% of global holiday shoppers plan to shop locally during the 2020 holiday period, likely as a result of shopping habits developed over regional lockdowns. An additional 48% say they will be turning to marketplaces for the bulk of their purchases, showcasing a split in consumer priorities as the end of an uncertain year for retail approaches.

The demand for multichannel has never been more apparent. Just 21% of British consumers say they will avoid high street destinations when shopping for gifts in 2020, despite continued uncertainty surrounding a second wave, and 51% say they’d like to shop both online and in-store. Meanwhile, 36% say they’re likely to choose click and collect options where available and 32% are open to changing when they shop in store to avoid large crowds. Much of consumers’ gifting inspiration comes from marketplaces like Amazon, with Amazon reviews holding a lot of influence over choices for more than one quarter of those who actively use it.

When it comes to shopping on social media, Facebook is cited as the most preferred platform from which to purchase gifts (38%), followed by WhatsApp (35%) and Instagram (31%), signifying a potential uplift in consumer spending across the Facebook family of apps which have had their ecommerce functionality significantly improved over the past few months.

August retail sales were up 3.9% year-on-year, boosted by 42.4% rise in online non-food sales

Retail sales for the month of August experienced a 3.9% year-on-year total growth, according to data from the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

This is positive news for the retail industry, following July’s performance which saw overall sales return to pre-Covid levels, despite online purchases continuing to outperform in-store sales.

In the three months to August, in-store sales of non-food products declined by 17.8%, but non-food sales grew by 1.4% on a total basis (or 7.7% on a like-for-like basis) thanks to a 42.4% year-on-year rise in online sales for this category. Meanwhile, total food sales improved by 5.9%, well above the average 3.4% growth over the past 12 months.

Further analysis from Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail at KPMG suggests that fashion sales also began to rebound throughout August, although this was mostly boosted by back-to-school shopping. Moreover, home-related products, like furniture and home-office equipment maintain traction with consumers as they work from home.

However, retail sales “remain down overall since the start of the pandemic,” Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the BRC explained in the press release. “Retailers are continuing to struggle… with rents accumulating, and the September quarter payment date fast approaching, many retailers are hanging on by a thread.”

In the lead up to Christmas, 58% of UK consumers say they’re shopping more online than they did before Covid-19

Globally, 49% of consumers admit to shopping more frequently than they did before the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent study conducted by Bazaarvoice. This figure rises to 70% for Mexican, 62% for American and 58% for UK shoppers, but lowers across mainland Europe and Australia.

When it comes to shopping preferences, the number of respondents that choose to visit brick-and-mortar stores has unsurprisingly fallen since last year, from 56% to 44%. Meanwhile, results indicate a strong increase in preference for online retailers that offer home delivery, surging from 45% in 2019 to 56% in 2020. The percentage of respondents opting for click and collect services also grew slightly, as did the amount of purchases from social media that included home delivery, but the appeal of pop-up shops and markets decreased by four percentage points each.

A notable 61% of online shoppers choose to shop on Amazon, the study revealed, while less than half said they buy from retailer sites (48%) and brand sites (45%), putting Amazon ahead in shoppers’ minds for the holiday season.

While the majority of consumers are hoping to spend the same amount during the holidays as previous years, Covid-19 has made a distinct impact on holiday spending in some regions. Data shows those based in Mexico, Australia and the US have been most affected, as 75%, 51% and 50% respectively agree that Covid-19 has impacted their typical budgets. By comparison, just 27% of German and 34% of French consumers have been affected in this way.

Furthermore, three in five global shoppers say they are less likely to give physical gifts to their loved ones this year, with 54% also reluctant to gift experiences and 55% disinclined to give services due to Covid-19.

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Morrisons spends £155m on Covid-19 safety measures in H1 2020

UK grocery chain Morrisons has so far spent £155m on Covid-19 measures this year, considerably denting its H1 pre-tax profits by 25% to £148m, it announced in its half-year update.

Increasing its home delivery capacity fivefold, recruiting 45,000 new staff members to meet increased in-store and online demand, and implementing safety procedures all contributed to the company’s rising costs as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. It also said that it had “deployed Morrisons assets to support colleagues, customers, local communities, the NHS, small suppliers, British farmers and charities”.

The company reported that events in H1 had created five new growth channels: Morrisons in-store pick up, food boxes, doorstep delivery, Morrisons on Amazon and Deliveroo. Meanwhile, sales excluding fuel rose by 8.8% over this total period, enhanced by a 12.3% growth in Q2 as consumers stayed home under lockdown. However, the rise in food sales and the temporary business rate holiday was not enough to offset the impact of nosediving fuel sales, additional staffing costs, and the cost of new in-store Covid-19 safety processes and equipment.

Despite this shaky half-year performance, Morrisons Chief Executive David Potts appears positive about the company’s prospects in H2. “We are now looking forward to holding on to what we created in the first half, building on our colleagues’ inspiration and innovation, and sustaining the momentum of a broader, stronger Morrisons.”

88% of global consumers plan to stick with the new brands they tried during lockdown

Research from Bazaarvoice has found that 88% of global consumers are planning to stick with the new brands they have discovered over the course of lockdown, rather than return to those they were using before the pandemic. In total, 39% of the more than 8000 consumers questioned for Bazaarvoice’s Behaviour That Sticks report said that they had indeed purchased from new brands during the course of their regional lockdown periods.

In the UK, 74% of respondents across all age groups now feel comfortable buying products online thanks to the coronavirus outbreak. Price is the key purchase driver for 31% of UK consumers, while 23% cited the ability to purchase online, underlining the importance of omnichannel in brand marketing strategies. However, 44% said that the reason they decided to try different brands in the first place was because products offered by the existing brands they used became unavailable.

Unsurprisingly, Gen Z were the most open to trying new brands during the peak of the lockdown, with 62% of them experimenting with different product options during this time, in comparison to just one quarter of those ages 65 and over. Meanwhile, one in five UK consumers signed on to a subscription service during the peak of the outbreak, and 80% of these claim they will continue to subscribe post-lockdown, referring to product quality (52%), ease (45%) and regular and reliable delivery (32%) as reasons for doing so.

August retail footfall in UK 31% down year-on-year

Total August footfall across all retail destinations was 31% down year-on-year, reports the Retail Gazette, citing data from Springboard. This marks the third consecutive month of improved footfall following non-essential retail stores resuming business in June, restaurants and cafés reopening in July, and the Eat Out to Help Out scheme being introduced in August.

These figures show an improvement of more than eight percentage points since July, when footfall dropped 39.4% year-on-year. However, August’s growth rate was less than half of that recorded in results from June and July, suggesting that full recovery to pre-Covid footfall will take a significant while longer.

Retail parks enhanced much of August’s result, measuring just 11% down year-on-year compared to a 19.9% decline in July. High streets continued to perform the worst of all retail locations, declining by 38%, but up from -47.2% in July, and shopping centres fell somewhere in the middle at a 34% year-on-year drop compared to a 42% drop in July.

Evidence suggests that the Eat Out to Help Out scheme did help improve footfall over the month of August, but perhaps not as much as originally hoped. It will be interesting to see whether footfall will continue to improve in September or dip back down now that restaurant discounts will no longer factor in consumer decision-making.

Retention overtakes conversion and acquisition as the key goal for website personalisation in UK and US

Research from Yieldify has found that retention has overtaken conversion and acquisition as the key goal for website personalisation across the UK and the US. The study, conducted in July, has identified that many brands are now focusing on how they can create great personalised experiences for existing customers as the effects of Covid-19, including a decline in customer loyalty, make it ever more difficult to acquire and keep new customers.

When asked what motivates them to pursue a website personalisation strategy, 58% of those surveyed said increasing retention rates, while 55% said increasing conversion rates. Almost three quarters of organisations questioned said that they already have a website personalisation programme in place, but a number of challenges stand in the way of improving them. A lack of expertise was cited as the most common obstacle (37%), followed by limited functionality (36%) and a lack of time (35%).

Despite the keen uptake of personalisation, just over half (54%) use AI-driven predictive segments. Those companies that do not implement AI in their personalisation strategies will find it more difficult to retain customers as the technology predicts future customer behaviour based on their past behaviour. However, organisations appear to have identified AI predictive segments as a potential area for growth, as 89% of respondents said they hoped to be using it by the end of 2021. There is no doubt that the increased online demand from consumers has driven AI to the front of many brands’ minds as an efficient and effective method of making customers stick with them.

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Travel-related Google searches in UK down 20% in August

The World Travel and Tourism Council’s Recovery Dashboard, which measures travel-related Google search interest over time, has confirmed searches in the UK are down 20% year-on-year as of August 9th.

Since the outbreak began in the UK and travel restrictions were imposed, there has unsurprisingly seen a severe reduction in search interest in this category. Searches fell to their lowest on May 24th, recording a 33% drop compared to the same date in 2019, before peaking on July 19th at -14%. Now that the summer holiday season has mostly ended, they appear to be declining slightly once more and it remains to be seen whether this will continue going forward.

Globally, each region has experienced variating patterns in travel-related search interest over the course of the last six months. On August 9th, searches in the Middle East remained 29% down year-on-year, while APAC and North America had seen declines of 28% and 18% respectively. In contrast, Africa is now 7% below last year, having been the only region to have seen a positive growth in travel-related searches throughout the crisis in early July (+17%).

While there are some exceptions to the trend, search interest among European consumers is experiencing a steadier rebound than many other areas of the world. This could spell a glimmer of hope for the European tourism industry as it scrambles to recover, as long as momentum continues into the off-peak autumn and winter seasons.

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UK retail sales returned to pre-Covid levels in July

UK retail sales returned to pre-Covid levels in July, as sales volume grew 3.6% month-on-month and totalled 3% higher than those recorded in February, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed. The value of retail sales grew by 4.4% between June and July, which translated to a 1.7% rise on February.

However, the month-on-month retail sales change in July is much smaller than the previous few months, which saw a 12% growth between April and May and a 13.9% growth between May and June. Despite an 11.9% increase in sales for clothing stores, they remained well behind pre-Covid levels with sales volumes in this category experiencing a 25.7% decline on February’s figures. With that said, online sales accounted for 30.9% of all clothing retailing, a higher proportion that that of department stores (29.7%) and household goods stores (22.7%).

Meanwhile, total online retail sales fell by 7% month-on-month, but were a staggering 50.4% higher than in February, reflecting the continued consumer preference for online shopping since the crisis began. Food sales in July also remained 2.4% higher than pre-pandemic levels, although growth contracted by 3.1% on June.

57% of UK consumers purchased from an online marketplace between March and June

Research from Adobe reveals that 57% of UK consumers who regularly shop online have made a purchase from an online marketplace, such as Amazon or Ebay, since March, compared to just 13% who made a purchase from a dedicated brand website.

These figures prove the draw of online marketplaces for UK consumers, who appear to prefer an all-in-one shopping experience over buying from multiple online shopping sources. On average, those who used online marketplaces made 11 purchases between March and June, while those who shopped on brand websites made just three.

In a press release, Peter Bell, EMEA Marketing Director at Adobe, explained, “The rapid increase in demand for online shopping in the first few weeks of the pandemic… made it an exceptionally challenging time for retailers. Marketplaces were able to get ahead of other retailers and brands, thanks to their ability to scale quickly and establish a reputation for reliability that saw them become the first port-of-call for a wide range of goods.”

Further results from Adobe’s data indicate that the growth in online shopping shows little sign of slowing as restrictions ease. Fifty-four percent of consumers said they would continue to shop online ‘for the foreseeable future’.

77% of British consumers now do at least part of their grocery shop online

New findings from Waitrose show that 77% of British consumers now do at least part of their grocery shopping online, up from 61% last year, reflecting the seismic shift in preferences towards online shopping since the coronavirus outbreak.

The survey also found that 60% of shoppers buy groceries online on a more frequent basis than they did in 2019, with 41% citing convenience as a reason for doing so. A further one in five claimed they had not considered online grocery shopping as an option before Covid-19.

Those aged 55 and above have most keenly adopted this method of food shopping since the crisis began, with the number of people in this age category switching to making regular online grocery purchases increasing almost threefold from 8% last year to 23% in 2020. In total, a quarter of UK consumers now buy their groceries online at least once every week, double the figures recorded in 2019.

The future of this sector also looks bright – 40% stated they will continue to purchase groceries online in the long term and a further 20% said they would increase the quantity that they buy.

Amazon net sales up 40% year-on-year in Q2

Bloomberg analysts originally estimated that Amazon would make $81.2 billion in revenue during the second quarter of this year. However, Amazon’s latest financial statement revealed that the company had actually totaled $88.9 billion over this period, compared to $63.4 billion in Q2 2019 – a huge 40% year-on-year growth in net sales.

This figure is despite the additional $4 billion in costs allocated during the quarter to keep its customers and employees safe from Covid-19 infection and to increase its delivery capacity. In April, Amazon claimed it was expecting a $1.5 billion loss in the second quarter due to such costs, but managed to double profit instead, from $2.6 billion in Q2 2019 to $5.2 billion in Q2 2020.

The company also stated that it had increased its grocery capacity by 160% amid heightened demand during Covid-19, causing grocery sales to triple on a year-on-year basis in Q2.

US retail sales fell 8.1% in Q2 2020

Data from CBRE has confirmed that US retail sales fell by 8.1% year-on-year in Q2 2020, the worst decline since Q2 2009 during the financial crisis, and down from a 1.2% growth in Q1 2020. This is despite a record 17.7% month-on-month rebound in consumer spending that was reported in May.

Non-store (ecommerce) retail sales grew by 25% during the quarter ending June, reflecting the consumer shift to ecommerce, while grocery stores and building and garden suppliers each saw a 13% growth over this period. However, sales across all other verticals analysed in the report, including fashion, food services and electronics stores were severely negatively affected. Non-farm payrolls declined by more than 11% due to high levels of unemployment in industries like hospitality and services.

Three quarters of global consumers are not planning to reduce their spending during Christmas 2020

Despite many having pulled back their spending amid coronavirus and an impending global recession, three quarters of consumers around the world are not planning on reducing their spending during Christmas this year. New research in July from Rakuten revealed that 87% of global shoppers will still be shopping for Christmas and other seasonal holidays, and more than half (57%) expect to make a purchase on key days like Black Friday.

While 65% of UK shoppers said they had made more online purchases than usual during the outbreak, nearly three quarters primarily plan to shop online during the holiday period, suggesting we could see an even larger shift to ecommerce in Q4 than we have seen in past years. This also presents a huge opportunity for brands as they market to customers that are relatively new to online channels.

So far, 49% of UK consumers have cut back their spending in light of the coronavirus crisis, compared to 33% and 28% of French and German shoppers respectively. However, 42% of them stated that they hope to spend the same amount of money at Christmastime as they have done in previous years, while 27% look to spend more on their immediate family members. Sales and discounts are set to be the biggest driving factor of Christmas purchases in late 2020 and almost one third of UK based shoppers plan to alter when they make a purchase in order to save more money.


UK digital ad spend fell 5% year-on-year in H1 2020

Research from IAB UK, as covered by WARC, has found that UK digital ad spend fell by 5% in H1 2020 compared with figures from the first half of 2019.

Across the sub-categories within the digital marketing sphere, some areas performed better than others. Display advertising grew by 0.3% year-on-year to £2.84 billion, within which video advertising rose 5.7% mirroring increased engagement consumers had with video streaming services over lockdown. Without video’s strong growth, overall digital ad spend results would have been much worse.

Search ad spend, meanwhile, dropped by 3.7% during this period, representing a £143 million fall in revenue on H1 2019. Mobile ad spend also saw a decline, but a much more modest 1%. However, one of the worst affected areas of digital ad spend was classifieds, which saw a massive 33% fall in revenue, decreasing by £235 million to £485 million.

44% of online publishers expect traffic to exceed pre-Covid levels this festive period

Further data from Rakuten Advertising’s ‘The Road to Recovery’ report has found 44% of online publishers expect traffic this festive period to exceed that of pre-Covid levels.

So far, 49% of affiliate publishers questioned said that they had seen traffic increase since the coronavirus pandemic began and 72% have not made any changes to the cost of placements or inventory on their platforms. However, several have adapted their operations amid the coronavirus crisis. More than one-third (34%) claim to have offered more opportunities to their advertisers for the same, or discounted, cost, while another 27% say they have created new inventory and campaigns.

It seems advertisers are mostly thinking on a short-term basis when it comes to this year’s Golden Quarter and this was cited as the biggest notable change in behaviour since this time last year. Seventy percent of publishers have noticed that most advertisers are planning campaigns to run between a one and three month period. Meanwhile, forty-three percent of those surveyed said that advertisers appeared to be spending less money overall.

The majority (58%) believe ads for discounts, deals and offers have been driving the most traffic through publisher sites, followed by highly personalised content (38%) and trending categories such as gaming, home furnishing and beauty (27%). When it comes to the types of platforms that are driving the most traffic, respondents cited organic search (48%), social media (34%) and mobile (29%).

US political ad spend will help US ad market to only a 2% decline

Media research company MAGNA Global predicts that US political TV ad spending during the second half of 2020 will help to stabilise the volatile ad market in the region. According to its findings, US ad spend is expected to decline by 2% year-on-year in H2 2020; improving by more than five percentage points on the drop recorded in the first half of this year (-7.2%).

With the election just around the corner, political advertising in the US could see its highest rate of spending ever at an estimated $5.1bn (after a stronger-than-expected uptake in H1), curbing overall damage to ad spend growth and marking a predicted 4.6% decline for the entire year. Had the election not occurred this year, this negative growth would have been much worse.

The research also found that around two-thirds of all political ad spend will be assigned to local TV, while the second largest area of spend is set to be digital ad platforms which could see $1bn in total earnings. Such digital ad platforms, including Google, and Facebook, appeared resistant to severe ad spend impact in the second quarter, growing by 5.7% as a result during H1 2020.

Meanwhile, MAGNA Global said that it predicts a 4% overall ad spend growth in the US for 2021.

64% of marketers believe language is more important than ever in marketing communications

Survey results from hundreds of senior marketers, conducted by Phrasee, has thrown the importance of language in marketing communications into the spotlight amid Covid-19.

Sixty-four percent agreed that ‘language has never been more important in helping a brand connect with its customers than it is today’, making it a top priority in the marketing leadership agenda. Consequently, 71% expect to spend more time scrutinising the language in their content in future marketing plans and budgets.

However, data also revealed that 82% of marketers struggle to create high quality branded content that uses effective language. Thirty-seven percent cited lack of investment in content creation and a further 37% claimed a lack of time spent on content as reasons for this, while another 36% stated they do not have enough writers on staff. Therefore, a little over half (51%) believe they are unable to create scalable and consistent messaging across different marketing channels.

AI copywriting: An overview

Dettol advert off the mark, YouGov finds

A recent Dettol advert that went viral highlighted what their marketing department deemed workers missed most about the typical office environment. However, a YouGov survey that questioned the British public on this topic proves that Dettol was considerably misinformed.

Two-thirds of the workforce indeed miss seeing their colleagues on a regular basis, the survey revealed. This was followed by face-to-face meetings and office gossip, which a further 49% and 38% of respondents cited as aspects of office life that they missed the most. Unsurprisingly, setting an early alarm was least missed by British workers (4%), as well as more trivial topics like the smell of the office (5%), the office décor e.g. plastic plants (7%) and the boss’s jokes (13%).

One particularly bizarre choice of copy featured on the now infamous Dettol ad was referring to colleagues as a ‘second family’. While the majority of Brits do claim they miss their co-workers, just 24% agree that they view them as ‘second family’, with women marginally more likely to do so than men, perhaps proving why the public perceived the advert as so off the mark.

Global mobile ad spend soared 71% in Q2

PubMatic’s Mobile Quarterly Index found that mobile ad spend soared 71% year-on-year during Q2, rising to 77% in the Americas, as spending across other areas was slashed.

While APAC experienced lesser year-on-year growth than other geographical areas (+66%) its 30% quarter-on-quarter growth was particularly strong, reflecting both the increasing cost of ads in the region and its advanced position in the timeline of the global pandemic. This could indicate that APAC will see the strongest immediate recovery in this metric as the outbreak subsides.

Nearly half of EMEA marketers are hoping to allocate more than 25% of their budgets to mobile ads this year, spurred on by the coronavirus crisis and the resulting uptick in social media consumption and time spent in-app – whether that’s gaming, shopping or browsing.

Despite being heavily impacted at the start of the outbreak, mobile video platform spend has seen a strong and steady recovery since the end of April and is now measuring 116% up on pre-pandemic levels in the US. As of Q2 this year, mobile now has a majority share of video ad spend across APAC (74%), EMEA (70%) and the Americas (60%).

ITV ad spend down 43% in Q2 2020, but improving

ITV financial results have revealed that total ad spend during Q2 was down 43% year-on-year for the broadcaster and down 21% in H1.

Despite this steep decline, things appear to be improving for ITV. Ad revenue fell by 42% in April alone as government restrictions were fully implemented, but this has since rebounded to a smaller 23% fall in July as “some FMCG and retail, publishing and broadcasting, cars and interior furnishing categories [begin] to spend more”, according to its statement.

Q2 ITV ad spend in the government and charities category increased by 74% year-on-year and publishing and broadcasting saw a 14% increase, however spending amongst all other categories declined – most significantly airlines, travel and holidays (down 97%).

The company also said that 70% of 230 shows impacted by the Covid-19 lockdown have now been delivered or are actively in production but the impact on the rest of 2020 and 2021 is dependent on how quickly other constraints are lifted. Total viewing was up 4% for Q2, while online viewing was up 13% with ‘good demand’ for library content.

JC Decaux revenue down 63% in Q2 2020

In its most recent financial statement, JC Decaux stated its revenue plummeted by 63.4% in the second quarter of 2020, a figure it claimed was ‘historic’ for the company. OOH advertising has taken a huge hit from lockdowns and stay-at-home orders around the world and JC Decaux’s data reflects the extent of financial losses felt in the industry.

In Q2, the company reported €351.9 million in revenue, down from 1 billion during the same period in 2019. Revenue in Q1 was less badly affected, but still recorded a 13.1% year-on-year drop from €840 million to €723.6 million. Overall revenue for H1 was down by 41.6%.

When it comes to revenue via geographic area, most regions saw relatively similar year-on-year declines. France and North America faired the best with -37.1% and -38.3% revenue growth respectively, while ROW and APAC saw the worst revenue declines of -48% and -43.7%.

The company said it has scrapped its earnings guidance for 2020 in light of the ongoing disruption and uncertainty caused by Covid-19.

UK lockdown drives 48% Q2 decline in traditional ad spend

New research from Nielsen, covered by WARC, reveals a 48% year-on-year decline in traditional UK ad spend (cinema, outdoor, press, tv and radio) between 23rd March and 30th June, reducing overall spend in this area by more than £1 billion over this period.

The majority of brands studied by the research firm cut traditional ad spend during those months, although some more harshly than others. Big names like McDonalds, Amazon and Sky slashed spending by 97%, 77% and 60% respectively, while FMCG giant P&G reduced traditional ad spend by £9.9 million.

Meanwhile, organisations in the entertainment and leisure and travel and transport sectors dropped their spending by £207 million and £138 million as both industries bore the brunt of the coronavirus business impact.

In contrast, Public Health England spent a huge £43 million during the quarter, a 5037% year-on-year increase, making it the biggest spender of all UK-based organisations that have continued to advertise since the coronavirus outbreak began. Other brands that increased spending include Disney (up 962% year-on-year), Microsoft (+142%) and O2 (+65%).

The digital transformation of media: How laggard advertisers lost out in the pandemic

Facebook ad revenue grows 10% year-on-year in Q2

Facebook’s ad revenue for the second quarter grew by 10% year-on-year to $18.3bn, despite the pandemic and recent boycotting activity which started at the end of June. The company expects a similar ad revenue growth rate for Q3, having been impacted by the continuing boycott of the platform by major brand advertisers, it said in its financial statement.

Monthly and Daily Active Users on the Facebook app were both up by 12% compared with the same period last year, reaching 1.79 billion and 2.70 billion respectively. Meanwhile, Family Daily Active People (users who access at least one app per day from Facebook’s family of apps, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) was up 15% year-on-year during Q2, although there are signs that this increased activity is beginning to normalise as some restrictions are lifted in certain areas.

Twitter revenue slows but DAUs up 34% year-on-year in Q2

In its latest financial release, Twitter has revealed that its Monetisable Daily Active Users (mDAUs) grew by 34% (186 million) during Q2 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 – the highest year-on-year growth rate in this metric since its records began. This figure has increased by 20 million since Q1, a period which began to see rapid growth as internet users searched for the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the large uplift in mDAUs, Twitter reported a 19% drop in total revenue (year-on-year) to $683 million as marketing budgets stopped many brands from splashing out on advertising. However, this slump could arguably have been worse, and was cushioned by the relative recovery in social ad spend compared to the last three weeks of March. For those advertisers that remained on the platform, ad engagement rose by 3% year-on-year, while cost per engagement was down by 25%.

Twitter’s CFO, Ned Segal, appeared optimistic for the future, commenting, “With a larger audience and progress in ads, we are even better positioned to deliver for advertisers when the live events and product launches that bring many people and advertisers to Twitter return to our lives.”

Worldwide social ad spend rose 26.2% in Q2 compared to the end of Q1

Worldwide social ad spend rose by 26.2% in Q2 compared to figures measured at the end of Q1, according to a new report from Socialbakers. One area of particularly rapid growth includes the accommodation industry, which saw a 151.3% increase in social ad spend since the end of March, as consumers warmed to the idea of staycations and other short trips. Ecommerce social ad spend was also up by 76.3% during the same period.

Meanwhile, cost per click on brand social ad accounts rose by 42.7%, from $0.075 to $0.107, indicating a cautious recovery which could continue throughout the rest of the year. However, average cost per click remained 23.6% lower than it was in Q2 2019.

Overall social ad spend rose steadily throughout most of the second quarter, with particularly strong performance in early June, before dropping off significantly during the final fortnight – a pattern which Socialbakers says is likely due to both the #BlackOutTuesday movement and the beginnings of the ongoing Facebook ad boycott. The North American market has been most affected by these events, seeing social ad spend increase by 91.7% between the beginning of April and mid-June but then diving by 31.6% in the last two weeks of June.

With the boycott predicted to continue throughout most of July, data suggests that ad spend will fall further throughout at least the first portion of Q3 before making another modest recovery.

Social Media Advertising Best Practice Guide

Biggest recorded drop in UK marketing budgets takes place in Q2 2020

The net balance of organisations that have cut marketing budgets fell to -50.7% in Q2, down from -6.1% in Q1. This latest figure is the biggest drop recorded by the IPA Bellwether Report since the report began twenty years ago – including the Q4 2008 financial crisis when marketing budgets were slashed to -41.7%.

Nearly 64% of those surveyed stated they had recorded a decrease in marketing spend between April and June, compared to 25% who recorded a decrease between January and March. Just 13% said they had seen an increase in budget for the same period.

Drilling down, a net balance of -76.6% of organisations reported cuts to their events marketing budgets in Q2, with just 3.6% claiming they had risen. Meanwhile, the reduction in main media budgets dropped to a net balance of -51.1%, the largest decline seen by the report for this metric. Out of all subcategories in main media marketing, OOH budgets unsurprisingly were hit the hardest (-61.2%), followed by audio (-50.0%) and published brands (-49.2%).

Direct marketing and PR budgets were least affected in the second quarter, but still recorded a severe downturn in net balance to -41.6%.

14 UK automotive brand sites increased ad spend in H1 2020

Nearly half of 30 UK automotive brand websites analysed by SEMrush increased their ad spend during H1 2020, despite auto sales plummeting since the coronavirus outbreak began. saw the largest growth in ad spend, rising by 257% between January and June. ranked second, followed by, with 156% and 88% growth respectively over the same period. Meanwhile, saw the biggest decline, totalling an almost 91% fall in ad spend growth in the first half of the year. and both cut ad spend on their sites by a little over 67%.

Predictably, in the wider transport sector, most airline websites either froze or reduced their ad spending as strict travel restrictions were imposed. In fact, the only airline to increase spending in H1 was – by a whopping 327%. In contrast, reduced its ad spend by a full 100% over six months, along with other well-known brand websites like Flybe, Jet2 and Emirates.

Social media

17 million UK social media users now spend 66 minutes or more per day on TikTok

In light of Covid-19, TikTok saw a massive surge in global downloads as social media users attempted to distract themselves or fill up free time with short video content.

Internal data from TikTok, as seen and reported by Bloomberg, suggests 17 million UK consumers now spend 66 minutes on the app per day on average, opening it on their mobile devices 13 times in every 24 hour period. The analysis also found four in ten Monthly Active Users (MAUs) in the region are aged between 18 and 24 years old. Prior TikTok data from Q1 this year, just before the coronavirus crisis hit the UK, estimated the app had 10 million regular UK users, highlighting the rapid growth in usership that has occurred since the national lockdown was put in place – something that is reflected in markets all over the world.

While Britain has the largest number of users consuming TikTok content in Europe, Norwegian users are the most dedicated, totalling an average 77 minutes of activity and 17 app activations per day. Across all of Europe, most TikTok users are women, with the trend almost overwhelming in Spain, where almost three-quarters of users are female, and the UK (65%).

These figures surpass previous third-party estimates of TikTok’s growth throughout 2020, emphasising the benefits in user numbers, activation and time spent in-app as a result of the pandemic.

TikTok reveals more than a 181m growth in global MAUs throughout H1 2020

TikTok divulged its user growth for the first time in late August as it files a lawsuit against the US government over its potential banning in the region, CNBC reports. The figures revealed that its global user base reached nearly 700m Monthly Active Users (MAUs) in July 2020, a 181m growth since December last year. It is estimated more than 100m of those are based in the US.

The app’s biggest spike in global popularity occurred between January and December 2018, when it  first began its ascent to social media fame in the West, jumping from 54m to 271m MAUs. User growth has continued to rise at a healthy trajectory since; steepening slightly this year due to increased interest amid the coronavirus pandemic and marking an almost 800% rise in MAUs between the start of 2018 and July 2020.

This comes as findings from an IPA report confirm that the social media platform more than doubled its reach to 15-24 year olds throughout the coronavirus lockdown, up from 14% to 30%. Meanwhile, other social apps increased their reach to this age group only modestly; YouTube, for example, climbed just three percentage points to 63% during the same period.

Facebook removed 7 million posts between April and June for spreading coronavirus misinformation

Facebook claims that it removed 7 million posts between April and June across its Facebook and Instagram platforms for spreading coronavirus misinformation, Reuters reports. This includes the promotion of fake preventative measures and cures.

The total number of posts that Facebook removed for breaching its policies came to 22.5 million in Q2, more than double the 9.6 million removed in the previous quarter, according to its recent Community Standards Enforcement Report. It also said that automatic detection of such content has increased thanks to improvements in the AI it implements on its platforms. For example, its hate speech detection rate improved from 89% in Q1 to 95% in Q2 on Facebook and from 45% to 84% on Instagram.

Perhaps these figures, which will be verified by an independent audit next year, will provide the proof many boycotters have been looking for that it is ramping up its action against hate speech and misinformation.

Time spent on social media is on track to total 36 days per average user in 2020

Globally, the average number of hours spent on social media in 2020 is on track to total 863.8 hours – the equivalent of 36 days – per average user, according to GlobalWebIndex’s Social Flagship Report for Q3 2020. However, only 14% of UK and US consumers are concerned about the amount of time they spend online.

As a general trend, social media usage has continued to plateau in most regions of the world, often differing by just a few minutes on average between 2019 and 2020. Exceptions to this rule include Kenya (+18 minutes per day since 2019), South Africa (+17 minutes), the UAE (+14 minutes) and Nigeria (+12 minutes).

While Covid-19 has seen time spent on social media spike in recent months, most of this has been driven by heavy social media users increasing their usage further, as opposed to casual or light users. These tend to be younger global demographics like Gen Z and Millennials, who spend typically 2 hours 41 minutes and 2 hours 22 minutes respectively per day on social platforms. Fifty-four percent of Gen Z consumers and 44% of Millennial consumers have been spending more time on social media since the start of the outbreak, while a smaller 27% of baby boomers have increased their usage.

However, there is evidence that these behaviours are short-lived for younger audiences. As the coronavirus crisis has progressed, the number of Gen Z spending longer on social messaging services dropped from 62% in March to 44% in May, while those of this age group spending more time on apps fell by 16 percentage points from 56% in March to 43% in May.

62% of the UK population has used video calling apps on a weekly basis since the outbreak began

Insight from Acxiom published on 15th July confirms that 62% of the UK population has used video calling apps on a weekly basis since the coronavirus outbreak began, rising to 72% on a monthly basis.

Weekly video call app use was measured at 36% before the start of the pandemic, before rising by 26 percentage points at the peak. It is now expected that 51% UK consumers will continue to use them at least once a week once the crisis is over, signalling a permanent shift in the use of video calling technology to keep in touch with friends and family.

Off apps studied by Acxiom, WhatsApp saw the highest percentage of weekly users during the peak of the outbreak at 38%, a number which is predicted to drop down to 34% (10 percentage points higher than the average weekly use pre-Covid). Zoom, on the other hand, saw the largest percentage increase in weekly users, rising by 19% from 5% to 24%.

Regular video app use post-Covid is expected to grow across the board compared to pre-Covid habits, whether on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Workplace impact

57% of British workers want to continue working from home after the Covid-19 crisis subsides

Fifty-seven percent of British workers say they’d like to continue working from home, some or all of the time, once the Covid-19 crisis subsides, data from YouGov has found.

Before the outbreak began, 68% of the workforce never worked from home, while 19% did for some of the time and just 13% did full time. As has been reported frequently, Covid-19 has initiated a huge shift in flexible and remote working as a means of adapting. By early September, one third of workers were still working from home full time, even after the government encouraged the population to return to their physical workplaces. This number is likely to rise again now that restrictions and messaging have been revised.

The idea of striking a balance between office and home working is one that seems to appeal highly to British workers once things return to normal – whenever that may be. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said that splitting their time across the office and home would be their preferred option. Meanwhile, the same percentage specified that they would still opt to be based in an office or other physical workspace full time – 29% fewer people than originally worked this way before the pandemic.

Three quarters of staff who are working from home expect their employer to continue to offer this arrangement after the crisis is over. As a result, one in five of the British workforce say they would consider moving far away (non-commutable distance) from the office, rising to 28-30% of those currently based in London, and 22% would even contemplate moving to a different country.

Nearly 1 in 5 UK SMEs fear they won’t survive another lockdown

17% of small businesses in the UK fear they won’t be able to survive another lockdown if one was enforced this winter, according to research from Simply Business.

In its new report, The Impact of Covid-19 on UK Small Business, the insurance company found 234,000 SMEs have already ceased trading as a consequence of the coronavirus outbreak. A total 67% were forced to temporarily stop trading at some point during the pandemic and 41% fear their business is at risk of permanently closing in the near future. It is estimated that the pandemic will cost owners £11,799 this year on average.

In order to keep things running, 56% of SME owners have used government support schemes so far, but 53% found it difficult to access such support or understand the eligibility criteria. Meanwhile, over one third (35%) opted to borrow cash from friends and family, 22% relied on credit cards and 8% asked for private bank loans.

Coronavirus has also fundamentally changed the way businesses operate. Forty-two percent of those surveyed claimed that they are now more reliant on technology and one quarter of staff have learned new skills over the course of lockdown, ultimately driving opportunity to streamline processes in the long term.

24% of agency and in-house marketers say Covid-19 has not had an adverse impact on their business

Data from AI company GumGum has found that 24% of agency and in-house marketers say Covid-19 has not had an adverse impact on their business, despite 89% of the organisations they’re employed by having cut costs or altered course as a result of the pandemic.

Six months after the start of the coronavirus outbreak, it appears that moods have lifted as marketers adjust to the new normal and the recovery post-lockdown. Fifty-five percent of respondents claimed they feel positive about the second half of 2020, with a further 70% say they expect business to return to normal (pre-Covid) levels within the next year. Meanwhile, 42% expect brands to spend more on marketing in H2 than they did in H1.

Several (41%) believe, in hindsight, that cuts to digital marketing budgets during Q2, the height of the outbreak for many, resulted in missed opportunities for organisations, while half also believe that marketing strategies set out for H2 2020 are ‘cautious’.

Zoom has reported a 355% year-on-year rise in quarterly revenue during Q2

Video conferencing platform Zoom released its Q2 2020 financial results at the end of August, revealing that revenues were up 355% on the same quarter in 2019. Meanwhile, profit over this period rose to $185.7 million compared to $5.5m the year before.

The software gained popularity as a method for hosting virtual meetings during Covid-19 lockdowns when the ability to meet up physically became suddenly impossible on a global scale. It said that, by the end of the second quarter, it had approximately 370,200 subscribers with more than 10 employees – a staggering growth of 458% year-on-year.

As a result, Zoom have increased its revenue estimations for the year from $1.8 billion (originally forecast in June) to $2.4 billion, as fears of a second wave put off some workers from returning to office spaces. Sky News reports that shares in the company have risen fivefold in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

67% of enterprise businesses have changed customer policies as a result of the outbreak

Sixty-seven percent of enterprise businesses – defined as companies that make more than £50m in annual revenue – have taken action to change customer policies in order to help preserve contracts and revenues going forward. A further 66% have taken steps to change vendor policies, too, according to ongoing Business Impact research conducted by Econsultancy and Marketing Week.

In addition, the majority of both enterprise and SME organisations have changed their employee policies in response to the Covid-19 outbreak – 88% and 76% respectively. On the most part, marketing strategies are also being altered as businesses adjust to the new normal and industries continue to battle current and future uncertainty.

Interestingly, there is a significant disparity between the number of enterprise companies and SMEs that have implemented dedicated teams to deal with the impact of Covid-19 on their organisations – 78% vs 45%.

56% of directors at enterprise businesses say lockdown has been their most innovative time at the company

Further data from Econsultancy and Marketing Week’s most recent Covid-19 Business Impact Survey reveals that 56% of directors at enterprise businesses say that lockdown has been their most innovative time at the company. Furthermore, fifty-seven percent of senior decision makers at these companies are also confident that they have a clear vision of the evolution of their industry post-lockdown, while 45% of those working at SMEs say the same.

Seventy-eight percent of enterprise workers and 67% of those employed at SMEs agree that productivity has also had improved or remained stable throughout the lockdown period, while more than three quarters of respondents from both types of companies stating they are more efficient when working remotely.

The survey suggests the cost of remote working is higher for employees from enterprise organisations. Many (79%) admit to working longer hours from home and that their work intrudes on their personal life (70%). However, those employed at SMEs appear to be keener to return to their physical offices than those from enterprise companies, although both figures remain at less than one third of the overall workforce.

Agility vs. innovation: how SME and enterprise marketers have responded to Covid-19 [survey]


58% of entertainment industry senior executives are confident in their business performance over the next six months

WARC reports findings from live entertainment company Branded, which suggest 58% of senior executives in the entertainment industry are confident in their business performance over the next six months. This is despite an unforgiving first half of the year for the sector, with most entertainment venues having been forced to close their doors and many still unable to reopen due to safety concerns.

Data from the survey shows 70% of entertainment’s key decision-makers believe that the crisis will continue for up to two years, while a further 17% expect it to last up to five years. Nearly one quarter of all respondents identified their organisation as ‘in a state of decline’, but 13% say they are ‘very confident’ and 45% say they are ‘somewhat confident’ about their company’s prospects over the next half-year. Smaller companies, which turn over <$1m annually, are more likely to be upbeat about future performance than larger companies which make over $6m.

Although senior executives are, for the most part, keeping positive about their business operations, more than a third have admitted to a decline in their overall mental health in the last six months, causing them to be more conscious of wellbeing and purpose-driven workplace practices.

Mobile app downloads rose 31.7% year-on-year in Q2

The number of apps downloaded globally across the App Store and Google Play in Q2 rose by 31.7% year-on-year in Q2 2020 to 37.8 billion, a report from Sensortower has confirmed. Video conferencing app Zoom was the most downloaded app in worldwide between April and June, beating TikTok which ranked second. As a result, Zoom is just the third app in history that has surpassed 300 million installs in any one quarter, alongside TikTok and Pokemon Go.

Business, healthcare and educational apps thrived in Q2, while travel, navigation and sports apps suffered from a period of low installs. Rideshare apps Uber and Lyft experienced a severe decline in US installs and as of late June were still 57% and 59% behind pre-Covid levels despite many restrictions easing.

Entertainment apps also fared well – Disney+ took the number 14 spot in the US and entered the top 20 apps in Europe for the first time, ranking at number 15. Meanwhile, global mobile game downloads saw healthy growth, up 51.2% and 19.6% from Q2 2019 on Google Play and the App Store respectively. Popular app Roblox jumped from its number 11 Q1 ranking to number 2 in the US as shelter-in-place orders were enforced, while battle royale sensation Fortnite saw an 88% increase in US downloads quarter-on-quarter having newly released the game on Google Play in April.

Disney loses $4.7bn in revenue during Q2, but Disney+ subscribers soar

Disney reported a $4.7bn drop in revenue for the quarter ending June, but Ofcom data has shown rapid uptake in its streaming service Disney+ thanks to Covid-19.

Between its launch in the UK (24th March) and early July, 16% of online adults in the UK had subscribed to Disney+. The research has also confirmed that it has surpassed NowTV when it comes to subscription numbers in the UK, ranking it the third most popular SVoD in the country after Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. However, 95% of those who subscribe to Disney+ also have a subscription with at least one of these other two services, suggesting that Disney+ offers supplementary entertainment and will likely not replace them as an outright alternative.

In June, Disney+ was accessed by 32% of UK households containing children between the ages of 3 and 11, an increase from 21% in April, overtaking the reach of BBC iPlayer among this demographic, which fell from 26% to 22% during the same period. As a result, this proves Disney+ is continuing to gain momentum with families despite the easing of lockdown, and in some cases is replacing BBC children’s content.

Ofcom data also found that consumers were on average spending 1 hour and 11 minutes per day on SVoD services in April 2020, which is 37 minutes higher than figures recorded in April 2019.

Employment & recruitment

Google searches for digital marketing courses saw three-digit growth during lockdown

New data from SEMrush shows the number of global Google searches for the term ‘online digital marketing courses’ grew 110% (rounded) in the period February-July 2020 compared with numbers from August 2019-January 2020. The figure rises to 132% in the UK, suggesting a large proportion of the workforce in the sector were looking to improve their digital marketing skills over lockdown.

Queries for Google-run digital marketing courses (‘Google digital marketing course’) were particularly high in the UK compared with global averages, seeing 168% growth in the search term vs. 86% growth elsewhere. This could indicate UK marketers’ perception of Google as an expert authority and influence on the subject when matched against other training providers.

Demand for similar digital marketing courses was highest in Canada, Australia and the UK over this five-month period, while equivalent search queries in the US remained relatively low.

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9% of marketers have been made redundant since the coronavirus outbreak began

Research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) has confirmed nine percent of global marketers have been made redundant since the coronavirus outbreak began, Campaign reports. One in five marketers have had to take a pay cut during the pandemic, while 17.5% were required to give up any annual leave, and a further 17% said they had been furloughed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

These figures, if expanded across the entirety of the marketing profession, suggest that 37,000 jobs could be lost and 83,000 pay cuts enforced overall as a result of Covid-19.

Despite uneasy times for marketers, a large percentage (87%) of them say that they feel confident that the sector will be able to bounce back once the pandemic has subsided. Brand reputation has become the highest priority for marketing employees during the outbreak, while promotions and discounts have settled at the bottom of the list, suggesting they have prepared long-term plans rather than fixating on short-term wins. Data from the CIM also found that marketers are focusing particularly on employee and public safety messaging across their campaigns as this becomes ever more important in the eyes of consumers.

Centre for Retail Research estimates 125,000 UK retail jobs have been lost in the first eight months of 2020

Amid economic uncertainty and wavering instore footfall, new data from the Centre for Retail Research (CRR), reported by The Guardian, estimates almost 125,000 UK retail jobs were lost in the first eight months of 2020. It is thought that struggling high street chains account for almost 93,000 of these job losses, some 43,000 of which are a direct result of firms like Debenhams, Monsoon and Cath Kidston falling into administration. So far, 7000 staff have been let go at M&S, 2,500 at Debenhams, 4,000 at Boots and 1,300 at John Lewis, among others.

Cutbacks at smaller businesses, which often have significantly reduced financial safety nets, comprise the remaining 32,000 of jobs lost, following an extended period of closure for non-essential stores during the height of the lockdown.

Other findings from The Guardian’s coverage indicate that the number of high street stores that are now empty is at its highest in six years, with city centres like London taking a particularly big hit as commuters stay home and visitor numbers dwindle.

As ecommerce still dominates retail sales – and high street footfall, while improving slightly, continues to perform much lower than average for the time of year – it remains to be seen whether the UK will see more job losses in this sector in the lead up to Christmas.

46% of UK marketers ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ worried for their jobs

Nearly half of UK marketers are worried for their jobs, according to a June survey conducted by YouGov. In a study of 1178 marketers, 16% said they were ‘very worried’ that they will lose their job as a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, while an additional 30% said they were ‘fairly worried’. Just 15% of marketers claimed they were ‘not at all worried’ about their job security, compared to 27% of other workers.

These figures are significantly higher than those from the rest of Britain’s general working population, of whom 10% and 21% are ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ worried about their job security, respectively.

So far, one quarter of marketers have been placed on furlough for at least part of the pandemic. While some have since returned, there continues to be heightened concern about financial security from employees in this industry. Sixty-two percent fear that their personal finances will be severely affected, in contrast to 46% of those in other sectors, as the UK economic outlook remains uncertain. Meanwhile, they are also more worried about being able to keep up with mortgage repayments than the rest of the UK workforce (38% vs 30%).

Large numbers of business leaders from YouGov’s wider B2B survey admitted that they had cut the budgets of their marketing functions, with more than a third claiming these cuts were severe. As a result, marketers appear to have felt the impact of Covid-19 – or believe they will feel it in the near future – more than most.

Chinese economy grows by 3.2% in Q2 after record Q1 slump

China’s economy grew by 3.2% in the second quarter of this year, following a record slump of -6.8% in Q1, the BBC has stated. This bounce-back is sharper than experts originally predicted, as China begins to return to normal ahead of other regions still gripped by the coronavirus.

The ‘v-shaped recovery’ that China appears to be going through could be good news for other major markets which have yet to lift all restrictions and reboot their economies. However, despite Chinese production back in full swing, retail sales in the country still lag behind, with growth in the sector falling again in Q2.

Overall Chinese economic growth for H1 was measured at -1.6%, according to its National Bureau for Statistics.

UK SMEs saw a 28% decline in revenue between March and May

Many UK SMEs have been understandably struggling amid the outbreak, with new analysis from Xero suggesting that they saw an average 28% decline in revenue between the months of March and May.

Employment rates dropped by 6% for small and medium businesses of all industries. Job losses rose to 10.8% in the hospitality sector during April and a further 3.1% in May, making it the hardest hit of all organisations of this size. The rental, hiring and real estate sector was the second worst affected, seeing job losses increase by 6.9% in May from a smaller 3.2% in April. Geographically, the East Midlands experienced the most job losses in SMEs across all verticals.Xero revenue growth per industry

Meanwhile, late payments increased by 7.8 days, having improved slightly before the coronavirus crisis hit in March, taking the average time it takes for an invoice to be paid from 30.7 days in February to 38.5 days in May.

97% of UK marcomms workers have reservations about returning to work in an office

Data from insight agency Question and Retain has indicated that as many as 97% of the UK marcomms workforce have reservations about returning to work in an office. A recent survey was conducted of 2500 workers in the industry regarding their thoughts on working from home and returning to work post-lockdown.

Eighty-two percent of respondents also said that they were ‘really’ or ‘quite’ nervous about travelling into work after the outbreak has subsided.

When it comes to their current experience working from home, less than half (48%) claimed that they felt sufficiently connected with their colleagues, while one in three admitted that they struggle with work and life balance since the lockdown began. Furthermore, fifty-seven percent felt that there was enough clear information from leadership teams within their organisations, suggesting that companies in the marcomms sector could do much more to inform and support their employees during the coronavirus crisis than they have over the last few months.

For more on coronavirus and marketing, visit Econsultancy’s coronavirus hub page.