The Pandemic Economy and Importance of E-Commerce

By at 4 August, 2022, 8:32 am

by Raymond J. Keating –

While certain Members of Congress continue with a political crusade against so-called “Big Tech” – via the “American American Innovation and Choice Online Act” (AICOA) and more –  a new Census Bureau report (“The Coronavirus Pandemic’s Economic Impact”) provides a reminder of how vital e-commerce is to U.S. consumers and small businesses.

The report offers an assortment of interesting data covering the economic effects of the pandemic in 2020. What jumps out most dramatically is the leap in e-commerce retail sales.

The comparison in terms of increased e-commerce sales in retail subsectors versus non-e-commerce sales is striking.

Retail Sectors (Stores)

  Change in E-Commerce Sales (2019-2020)

    Change in Non-E-Commerce Sales (2019-2020)

Furniture and Home Furnishing



Electronics and Appliance



Building Materials, Garden Equipment



Food and Beverage



Clothing and Clothing Accessories



Sporting Goods, Hobby, Books, Music



Misc. Store Retailers



Nonstore Retailers




A key point here is that e-commerce allowed so many businesses to pivot during a pandemic, and be able to serve customers. Obviously, as the economy continues to emerge from the pandemic, e-commerce will develop and remain vital to entrepreneurs, small businesses and consumers.

And the foundation for e-commerce includes entrepreneurs, small businesses, market leaders and investors in sectors such as broadband services, social media, online marketplaces, software and hardware manufacturers, and more.

Perhaps policymakers should concentrate on incentivizing entrepreneurship, investment and innovation, as opposed to attacking market leaders, such as, Apple, Meta (Facebook), and Alphabet (Google), with fallout being felt among the entrepreneurs and small businesses that work with, serve and potentially would be acquired by such firms.

Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. His latest book is The Weekly Economist: 52 Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an Economist.




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