Declining growth in e-commerce for the first time

Fatih-Kağan Taşkoparan

Share this article

The coronavirus crisis led to unprecedented growth in online retail. For years, the industry only knew one direction: upwards. But now it is experiencing disillusionment: online giants such as Amazon and Co. are increasingly feeling the effects of consumers' thriftiness. For the first time in 15 years, a decline in sales of 2.2 billion euros to a total of 77.7 billion euros was recorded compared to 2021. This is shown by the results of the study "E-commerce market Germany 2023" from EHI and ecommerceDB. So are the fat years over?

The effects of the war in Ukraine, the impact of the pandemic on overall economic development and the consumer climate are weighing on business. The times of growth in German online retail are over for the time being. For the past year 2022, the country's thousand largest online stores recorded a decline in sales of 2.8%. This corresponds to a decline of 2.2 billion euros to a total of 77.7 billion euros compared to 2021, as the results of the study "E-Commerce Market Germany 2023" by EHI and ecommerceDB show. This means that the continuous growth of online retail has come to a halt for the first time in the 15-year history of the study.

"Some stores are struggling with large declines in sales or even appear in this year's study for the last time due to closure," explains Lars Hofacker, Head of E-Commerce Research at EHI. "However, smaller stores in particular show strong relative growth in the new ranking. Overall, the top 1,000 turnover is 1.5 times higher than before the pandemic. For the current year, however, we at EHI initially expect the downward trend to continue," Hofacker continues, assessing the current situation.

Smaller stores show growth - German e-commerce market remains highly concentrated

While in the pandemic year 2020 (33.1%), the top 1,000 still managed to grow by 16.1% in the following year, the general consumer sentiment and thus the willingness to buy online in Germany weakened. Nevertheless, a pre-Covid comparison (2022 with 2019) still shows growth of 50.2%. In particular, the smaller B2C online stores in the bottom 500 places of this year's ranking have grown the most at 7.3% compared to the previous year, as the study shows. The top 100 generated over 70 percent of the turnover of the top 1,000, meaning that the German e-commerce market remains highly concentrated.