April 3, 2020 / 7:22 AM / 4 months ago

Coronavirus causes 60% rise in online shopping in Finland

HELSINKI (Reuters) - E-commerce orders soared 60% in the last two weeks in March as the coronavirus epidemic hit Finland, e-store platform maker Vilkas Group said on Friday, basing its estimate on the sales figures of more than 2,000 Finnish online shops.

“Numbers from the first quarter reveal a unique spike in orders towards the end of March. It indicates an enormous change in consumer behaviour, with corona going hand in hand with the digitalisation,” Vilkas Group Chief Executive Markku Korkiakoski said in a statement.

The group, which follows the e-commerce growth in Finland with its quarterly index, said the sudden spike was visible in orders although not yet in earnings.

Finnish Commerce Federeration has estimated that the value of Finns’ domestic and foreign online purchases stood at roughly 4.5 billion euros in 2019, although exact data from foreign online retailers has been difficult to obtain.

“It is fully realistic to expect a growth in the scale of a billion (euros) in e-commerce,” Korkiakoski said.

E-commerce giant Amazon has not yet initiated operations in Finland but Vilkas Group believes it will, sooner of later.

“Experts are quite unanimous in their assessment that Amazon will come to Finland soon,” Korkiakoski said.

The competition brought by Amazon would mean another challenge for Finnish street level shops and shopping centres which are already struggling due to sharp decline in sales caused by the coronavirus epidemic, he said.

Finns have resorted to online shopping after the government placed the capital region under lockdown, restricted traffic across Finland’s borders, banned public meetings of more than 10 people, closed schools for most pupils and urged people to stay at home as much as possible.

“In general, crisis speed up change. Now that corona teaches retailers and consumers to go online and the commerce to digitalisation, much of the impact on online shopping will be permanent,” Chief Executive Aki Kangasharju of ETLA economic research institute said.

Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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