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Lockdown leads to 95% increase in social commerce

Tom Bottomley
16 June 2020

UK consumers have flocked to Facebook, Instagram and Google Shopping for their spending sprees during lockdown, with a 95% increase in sales of products discovered on social media.

The latest research from ParcelHero found 16% of UK consumers had purchased items via social media at the beginning of the year, and that figure has soared to 20% during lockdown.

As a fifth of Brits become social shoppers, ParcelHero says the potential for growth is unlimited if UK platforms introduce checkouts.

The news comes off the back of’s survey of independent retailers – in partnership with Scoop – which showed that 30% of independents have been selling via social channels during lockdown.

Even after 15 June, when many non-essential shops re-opened, sociable shopping will remain off-limits thanks to continuing social distancing measures. However, the new research reveals that online shopping has become an increasingly sociable activity thanks to a lockdown boom in social commerce.

The closure of many high street favourites has fuelled the 95% increase in shoppers discovering new products on social media compared with 2017.

ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks, says that, by the end of 2020, nearly 11 million British shoppers will have made a purchase after first seeing a product on social media. That’s despite the fact that, unlike the USA, most platforms still don’t have a checkout here in the UK.

Jinks comments: “Almost 30% of millennials and one in four Generation Z’s have bought an item online during lockdown that they first saw on social media. Instagram, Facebook, Google and You Tube have all inspired purchases, often after viewing posts from bloggers, celebrities and friends.”


Instagram checkout is still not available in the UK

According to Jinks, back in December 2019, long before the lockdown hit, research released by the social commerce specialist Curalate revealed a 79% increase in UK shoppers discovering new products on social media compared with 2017. Instagram alone enjoyed a 64% increase in UK surfers using the platform to find shopping inspiration.

Jinks says it’s “jaw-droppingly hard to believe,” but there’s still no checkout on Instagram here in Britain, nor is there on Facebook Pay.

Nonetheless, 24% of UK businesses were selling products via social media at the beginning of the year. That’s likely to have risen to around 30% following lockdown as desperate sellers sought new ways to reach consumers.

Squadded Shoppping Party

Squadded Shoppping Party

Jinks adds: “Just in case you think social media shopping isn’t, well, sociable enough, there’s even a new app enabling friends to clothes shop on a site together. Users of the new Squadded Shopping Party browser extension can invite their mates to shop on a site with them and create a poll, share favourite designs and create outfits. In the UK, it works on stores including ASOS, Boohoo, Misguided, Zara and Topshop.

“The impact of Covid-19 on shopping routines is likely to last many more months. Every retailer needs to be a social climber. It’s shocking that there is still very little opportunity to buy direct from social media platforms in the UK but, nonetheless, the likes of Instagram and Facebook now inspire many thousands of purchases every day. No trader can afford to remain anti-social.

“Most physical stores may be opening on Monday, 15 June, but sellers shouldn’t be distracted from the huge change in how Brits shop due to the growth of social media. Social commerce is growing exponentially.”

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