The 2020 US presidential election’s impact on e-commerce

12 November, 2020
3 minute read

With the global pandemic, lockdowns, panic-buying, a spike in online shopping, a fluctuating stock market, and the holiday shopping season in our midst, 2020 has delivered plenty of curveballs. Last week offered another one: the US presidential election. As an online retailer, did you notice any changes to your sales? Here’s what we noticed, and how sellers should react.

The first week of November

The 2020 US election day fell on Tuesday, 3 November. Voting occurred after a highly contentious election season between incumbent Republican, Donald Trump, and Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden. As widely speculated, the results of the election came down to a handful of states. Because of mail-in voting and close margins, no winner was called until days later. This meant a very tedious week for the entire country, with counting and an intense news cycle spanning from Tuesday morning until Saturday. That afternoon, when enough votes had been counted for the race to be called, it was in Biden’s favour.

How this impacted online retail

As we continue our run into Q4, online retailers are gearing up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. At eCommerce Nurse, we support vendors and sellers all over the globe. Many of our clients are in the United States and sell primarily on Over the election week period, we noticed a drop in sales across the board for most American clients. Some of our clients’ sales were down up to 50% on  3 November and 4 November. Some larger clients experienced a dip of 33% less than forecasted sales as the week drew to a close. We noticed this regardless of product category, size of catalogue, ad spend, etc. Interestingly, we noticed a similar drop for EU and UK clients, suggesting that many customers weren't shopping, and were rather glued to the news or otherwise distracted no matter where in the world they live.

What to expect for Q4 2020

Fortunately, this dip was temporary. The biggest drop had occurred by two or three days after the election. When results were announced on Saturday, these clients had all started to rebound, though some are still slowly recovering. 

Black Friday is just two weeks away, and by now, sellers should be well-prepared with marketing and advertising plans in place. As the election dust clears, we suggest you:

  • Ensure your key offers are in place for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with proper stock levels through the post-Christmas sale period.
  • Utilise Amazon Prime Exclusives, coupons, and price drops, as well as monitoring the competition.
  • Plan and schedule your social media posts and off-Amazon activities to drive traffic.
  • Review your pricing strategy and ensure you don't go too low amid the sale frenzy and run out of stock prematurely.
  • Check your backend search terms and add any gifting related terms for relevant products, if you have not already.
  • Be prepared to keep an eye on things, and anticipate the data you will need to leverage any learnings for the future.
  • Plan to have a Q4 post-mortem. What worked, what didn't, and what could've been done better?

Need more help?

As we head toward a new presidential inauguration in January, we are undoubtedly going to see the e-commerce market share continue to grow. US retail e-commerce sales are projected to grow rapidly in the coming years, going from $505 billion in 2018 to more than $735 billion in 2023. With the ongoing pandemic decimating physical retail, it will be interesting to see how this expansion will develop.

If you experienced an election dip last week, we hope you are recovering and moving positively into the crucial Q4 period.

Do you need assistance with your online business? Contact us to learn how we can support your goals and growth for the new year and beyond.

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Katy Luxem

Katy Luxem

Katy Luxem is the senior content manager for eCommerce Nurse and Vendor Society. She has worked for Amazon in both Seattle and London, delivering results for multiple different teams and product lines across the U.S. and Europe. Katy's experience is centered on making sure customers have a best-in-class experience. She enjoys helping businesses and brands succeed and grow with next-level content.

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