Just about every business in the world have faced severe difficulties trading through the coronavirus crisis with many either voluntarily pausing operations or for many being ordered to close by governments. Here in the UK however, online retail was not just allowed to remain open but selling online was actively encouraged by the government. This has led to a massive increase in sales by eBay UK’s 300,000 SMEs and, eBay UK exports from SMEs also rose during the lock down.
Short term Coronavirus impact on eBay UK exports
Over half (58.9%) of all UK SMEs on eBay exported international during lockdown (March and April). As retailers rallied from the intial shock of lockdown, between March and April the value of eBay UK exports by SMEs rose by +2%, while the quantity of items exported rose by +7%.
Long term Coronavirus impact on eBay UK exports
Overall, compared with last year the total value of SME sales during lockdown (March/April) rose by a third (+31%) in 2020, while the value of eBay UK exports from SMEs fell only slightly by -1.3% despite significant trading barriers due to lockdown, including lower overall consumer spending and reduced delivery capacity.
It’s no surprise to see UK demand rise as soon as the high street closed, but despite a huge restriction on global trade and operations, SMEs exports remained surprisingly flat year on year and actually grew month on month.
It’s also worth giving a shout out to the carriers and mail operators who kept going through the pandemic, at home and around the world. Without them to support SMEs, eBay UK exports wouldn’t have left the warehouse, let alone the country.
“I run an interiors boutique based in Ross-on-Wye. We’ve been selling online through eBay for a while now, but during lockdown the proportion of our sales going to international buyers has really grown, with our top export countries being the USA, France, Germany and Italy. During lockdown I had to close my physical store, so it’s been a real lifeline to be able to continue selling online, and reaching a bigger global pool of customers.”
– Jade Oliver, founder,Heavenly Homes & Gardens
Top 10 eBay UK exports by country/number of items
Ireland, the US and Italy were the markets who bought the most number of items from UK SMEs during lockdown, collectively accounting for over 1.7million items shipped.
Top 10 eBay UK exports by country/value
The US, Ireland and France were the markets who spent the most on UK SMEs products during lockdown, collectively accounting for over £41million worth of products.
Top 10 eBay UK exports by category
The top ten most popular categories for purchases during lockdown by value were influenced by our new working from home routine, and greater time on our hands to explore crafts, sports and hobbies:
- Vehicle Parts & Accessories
- Computers/Tablets & Networking
- Clothes, Shoes & Accessories
- Home, Furniture & DIY
- Business, Office & Industrial
- Sporting Goods
- Health & Beauty
- Toys & Games
- Jewellery & Watches
- Sound & Vision
“This is a worrying and difficult time for small business across the UK. But, while lockdown forced so many to shut up shop on our high streets, thousands have shown real imagination and agility, quickly pivoting their businesses models in search of customers further afield. The majority of SMEs trading on eBay during lockdown found new revenue streams from international markets. Exporting across the globe has provided thousands of small businesses with a much needed boost when many remain in the queue to receive Government support.
Looking ahead to a world after lockdown, the key for supporting British small business will be making sure export routes remain open and as friction free as possible.”
– Rob Hattrell, UK VP, eBay
COVID-19 Secure operations and Brexit preparations webinar
Rob makes a good point about export routes… next stop Brexit as the UK’s transition agreement with the EU expires at the end of the year with, as yet, no long term trading agreement in place. Next week on Thursday the 18th of June, we are holding webinar as the country gets back to work looking at changes you will have to make to how you may have previously run your online business and how you can plan for the next few months with COVID-19 Secure practises and Brexit both high on the agenda. Sign up for the webinar here.