E-Commerce Building on Record Covid Surge, Fraudsters Taking Advantage

E-Commerce Building on Record Covid Surge, Fraudsters Taking Advantage

January 13, 2022

Final online spending numbers from December indicate that not only was e-commerce up sharply from before the pandemic, but that it is growing even compared to 2020’s record surge. In its Mastercard SpendingPulse, the Purchase, N.Y. payment network found that online retail spending for December 2021 outpaced 2020 by 13.5 percent (excluding automobiles and gasoline).

In any year, that would be a significant increase and indicate not only health in the e-commerce sector, but signal fraud teams they could be in for an increased workload. Compared to 2019, however, online spending has skyrocketed. Mastercard says retail e-commerce sales in 2021 were 60.4 percent higher than they were in 2019—several months before government restrictions to fight the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic were implemented.

A recent study predicted a similar rise in fraud for the just-completed holiday season.

Restaurants  (up 51.9 percent), Luxury items (46.8 percent) and apparel (46.3 percent) posted the biggest gains from 2020. A big rebound in restaurants, many of which were closed in 2020, was expected, but the December 2022 number was still more than 20 percent higher than in 2019.

“Retailers and brands spent much of the pandemic shifting or expanding their digital channels, which we see reflected in the SpendingPulse figures as online sales continued to experience strong growth in December,” Mastercard said in a report looking at trends for the coming year. “In 2022, innovation will be amplified with retailers looking at different platforms and tactics to reach hyper-connected consumers.”

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