French payments confirm the boom in e-commerce and reveal the paradoxical impact of the health crisis depending on the sector

E-commerce rise: a new record for the total amount of spending, which increased by 20% (after +14% in 2020).

According to BPCE Digital & Payments, 2021 is Another record year for e-commerce. This is a very clear trend that includes all sectors of activity.

For those under the age of 35, a third of consumption is done online. The share of online spending is 85-95% in travel and airline tickets; 75% in education services and 98% in dating.

Sectors whose sales activity was exclusively physical before the crisis began to switch to e-commerce. In addition, one in three clothing purchases are now made online; 20% of spending is on restaurants, too, compared to just 3% two years ago. Matching number for sports equipment. In the luxury watches and jewelry segment, online sales have increased from 10% in 2019 to 16% today. Whatever the sector, online sales are becoming essential.

The average e-commerce cart is also half higher than stores, at €57 versus €38.

The data from this scale illustrate the increasing digitization that is reflected, moreover, in all payments. Cash continues to decline, due to the rise of distance selling and the adoption of contactless payment technology, their quantities have nearly tripled in two years. 2022 will be an opportunity to see these trends confirmed.

A mixed effect depends on the sectors of activity and the big winner, the online entertainment sector.

There are two areas of variation. First, the health crisis created “winners” and “losers.” Then, for some sectors, the crisis was just an accident, a one-time shock, positive or negative, followed by a rapid return to normal. On the contrary, for others, the crisis was a trend of acceleration or deep regression, the effects of which persist to this day. Therefore, four groups can be distinguished:


The sectors of ready-to-wear, barbershops, sports equipment and even restaurants faced total or partial closures during the health crisis. The French returned very quickly to these sectors once restrictions were lifted because they remained very attached to these companies. The trend is still generally favorable.

One-time winners:

Conversely, some sectors were temporarily strengthened by the health crisis before returning to their previous level. Perhaps the most prominent example of this is the large food retailers. French food spending rose by 28% between 2019 and 2020 and returned to +4% in 2021 versus 2019.

Sectors that are still declining:

This is the case for activities associated with mobility and tourism, such as airlines, public transport or railways, and, more clearly, travel agencies. These data testify to profound changes in the mobility habits of the French.

Growth sectors:

For other sectors, the health crisis has been a real growth accelerator. The online entertainment sector has exploded, including streaming, video game, betting and gambling platforms. The numbers confirm this with a 37% increase in spending on live streaming sites between 2019 and 2021. Even more surprising is that pet stores and the veterinary care sector have grown by 67% in two years. Do-it-yourself and decoration centers (+22%) and gardening centers (+31%) also posted strong increases. Trends indicating a refocusing of French consumers on the domestic sphere.

Our barometer provides a representative view of French consumption. These trends enrich our value proposition for Banques Populaire and Caisses d’Epargne and confirm their position with their clients. Our role is to adapt payment services to the digitalization of commerce and the economy, which is why we have brought together in the Digital Payments department all the work and expertise of Groupe BPCE. In innovation, data, digital and payments, adapting to the uses of everyone, from individuals to businesses “,” Explains Yves Tyrode, General Manager, Digital & Payments at Groupe BPCE.

Leave a Comment