The pandemic’s boost to online sales: A one-time event or a new normal?

The FRED graph above shows online retail sales. It’s no surprise these sales have been steadily increasing, even if there are a few rough patches during recessions. And it’s also completely expected that the pandemic provided a large boost to e-commerce over on-site retail. The question is whether this is a temporary boost that will subside once the world returns to normal. that is, will the previous trend continue where it left off or has the online sector gotten a boost that will put it on a higher trajectory?

Obviously, it’s still too early to say exactly what the “new normal” will look like. But, at the time of this writing, it looks like the second option is correct and there’s a new trajectory for online sales. But not much has been normal about the current recession, so only time will tell. Visit this blog post later to see how the graph updates with new data.

How this graph was created: Search FRED for “online retail” and the right series is among the first choices.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.