2020’s key trends

It was the year online shopping stepped on the accelerator. It started well with spending numbers up over 10% in the first few months. COVID-19 hit and this changed the shopping landscape in a major way, especially during lockdown when physical stores were inaccessible to most. Those already online spent more often across more sectors and those who hadn’t tried online before discovered its ease and convenience.

At their peak in May, online spend hit over $30m a day, resulting in monthly spend 56% higher than the equivalent months in 2019.

Once shoppers were online and a new habit was formed, many remained there, even when the shops reopened. We continued to see online spending well up on the previous year right through to the end of the year. By year end, online shopping spend for 2020 was $1.2b greater than 2019, a massive 25% increase.

In 2020:


Online spend


Increase in online
spend over 2019


New online shoppers

Despite most physical retailers being closed for at least two months with lockdowns, instore spending was still well over a billion dollars up on 2019. Overall retail spend for 2020, online and instore was 5% up on 2019. Most commentators see this as a direct result of reduced international travel, leaving us with more discretionary money to spend on retail locally. 

In 2020:


Total spending
(online & off)


Increased total
spend over 2019


of all shopping
is online

And while 2020 was a good year for online shopping, accelerated by COVID, it’s important to note that it only makes up 11% of all our shopping. Going to the shops is still how most Kiwis choose to shop. In the UK, US, China and other developed nations, over 20% of all spending is online. This suggests that, even after 2020’s boom, there is plenty of room for online retailers to experience more growth.

A number of notable online trends emerged through 2020 including:

  • Over 2.17m Kiwis now shop online – this is 53% of our population.
  • Existing online shoppers are spending more often (average 3.2 times) and are spending more each time ($109).
  • The 30 – 45 age group makes around 27+ transactions a year with the 40+ age group making almost 30 transactions a year.
  • 71% of all online spend was with domestic retailers. All but two of our shopping sectors experienced a decline in international spend.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday remain the most popular days to shop online, with Saturday the least popular.
  • The strongest growth online occurred amongst the older age groups (over 60) with a 30% rise in spend.
  • The number of males online continues to grow. Males tend to shop less often but appear to spend more when they do.
  • The regions all experienced strong online growth with Northland, Gisborne, Taranaki and Hawkes Bay all experiencing over 30% growth. 
  • The South Island hasn’t embraced online shopping with the same enthusiasm, with below average growth in Otago, Southland and Canterbury.
  • The launch of a number of new local destinations saw online marketplaces grow by a staggering 46% on 2019.
  • Buy Now, Pay Later continued its meteoric rise from the last few years, more than doubling its annual online spend in 2020.
  • All our domestic sectors experienced growth in 2020, with all but two growing by over 40%. Not surprisingly, our largest sector, Food, Groceries & Liquor led the way, especially through the lockdown period. What is surprising though, is that this wasn’t even the fastest growing sector for the year. Homewares, Appliances & Electronics took this honour, up nearly 60% on 2019. On top of this, this was the only sector to show significant growth in international spending as well. It is appears that if we can’t go on holiday, we’ll spend the money on things for the house.

We will explore all the trends, including looking deeply into each sector, in the The Full Download, our annual in-depth eCommerce report featuring trends, insights, case studies, expert opinions and tools to help retailers grow their online business. 

Content type
Latest eCommerce Insights

Shoppers talk about their preferences

2023’s tough economic conditions saw shoppers to make their money go further.

Prue Watson, co-founder of Foxtrot Home

Customer-first with Foxtrot Home

Kiwi online retailer Foxtrot Home discusses how their business continues to grow by building a brand that focuses on customer engagement and integr