There’s no doubt that e-commerce helped many navigate the pandemic, from online shopping to curbside pickup to food delivery. But as we slowly emerge from lockdowns and other restrictions, it’s less clear how this shift to digital commerce may evolve across economies and industries.

This raises questions about how much digital consumption increased, whether the crisis widened the digital divide or spurred economies with little e-commerce to catch up, how permanent the shift to online sales will be, and what factors explain deviations between economies and sectors.



We investigated these questions and we found that the share of online spending rose more in economies where e-commerce already played a large role—and that the increase is reversing as the pandemic recedes.