Insights Intelligence

Mastercard SpendingPulse: UK E-Commerce Sales up 72% Year-On-Year in May as Pandemic Continues to Drive Consumers Online [REPORT]

New Mastercard Recovery Insights Report Spotlights the Impacts of COVID-19

Online retail sales were up 72% year-on-year in the UK in May according to Mastercard SpendingPulse1, which tracks overall retail sales across all types of payment, including card, cash and cheque. This is an advance on April’s online sales – which were up 64% year-over-year, showing an ongoing growth trend as consumers continue to shop online during the pandemic.

To dig into this further, Mastercard has released the first report, The Shift to Digital in its Recovery Insights series, which sheds light on the impacts of the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, including the incredible growth of online shopping.

In the UK, total retail sales for May were down 13.6% year on year while e-commerce sales* were up 72.3 percent, according to SpendingPulse, underscoring the broader shift to digital in how we work, live and shop. Indeed, during April and May 2020, e-commerce as a share of total retail sales reached 33 percent in the United Kingdom – an unprecedented high.

Additionally, consumers are focusing more on consumer staples versus spending on luxury. UK SpendingPulse retail sales estimates for May show e-commerce spending on groceries increased by 76% year-on-year. By comparison, e-commerce luxury decreased by 14% year-on-year during that same time.

UK E-Commerce Sector

Year-On-Year E-Commerce Growth

May 2020

Total eCommerce




Department Stores








“There has been an undeniable shift to online shopping over the past two months,” says Janne Karppinen, Head of Retail at Mastercard “The question is whether these trends will continue for the long-term. We’ve seen some redistribution of sales away from the High Street into online channels and this could have a huge impact on how retailers blend their online and physical footprints in the future.”

Yesterday, Amazon announced it is to tokenise Mastercard transactions in the UK and 11 other countries, for a faster, safer and more convenient checkout.

Mastercard has been committed to helping retailers and many others navigate the challenges of the pandemic – and now the recovery. This has included making certain insight-driven tools available at no cost to consumers, governments and small businesses to give a timely snapshot of economic performance during this time.

Earlier in June, Mastercard launched, a new online search tool that confirms which UK shops and businesses are open for customers to visit as the nation gradually reopens. Having the ability to make informed decisions is critical to the long-term success of companies, communities and individuals around the world.


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