Spotlight: Amazon, eBay and Shopify warn the online shopping spree is over


Jack Derwin

May 6th 2022 3 minute read

Another big week of earnings this week saw the ecommerce sector come into full focus as major players like eBay forecast a spending slowdown. These are the five big stories from the week that was.

1. Insufficient Funds

As the world’s ecommerce giants line up to update investors, one thing is becoming clear: the pandemic-filled global shopping spree looks like it is coming to an end.

eBay sold off as it revealed total sales were down 20% by value across the marketplace. Amazon and Etsy echoed this ‘deceleration’ as both forecast weak retail growth ahead.

Why? Companies say inflation is leaving shoppers with less cash to splash. Perhaps a more simple explanation is the online shopping boom was too big to be sustained.

This realisation has smashed companies like Shopify. Its share price has now fallen back to pre-pandemic levels – even as it spends big to become a genuine Amazon threat.

2. Do It Yourself

Perhaps sensing this, some are reinventing themselves. Australian ecommerce darling Temple & Webster will take on Bunnings in a bid for the renovators market.

While its core furniture business remains, T&W is opening a new online store to sell all of the hardware, bits and bobs budding builders might want.

It’s a big ask. Australians have traditionally gravitated towards in-store experiences – and sausage sizzles – of chains like Bunnings which controls 50% of the market.

But Temple & Webster hopes that it can change all that like it did with furniture. While not without risks, hardware represents a $16 billion market opportunity.

3. An App For That

Uber’s rideshare business has again overtaken Uber Eats as the platform’s biggest revenue driver in yet another sign that consumer behaviours are normalising.

That’s not to say demand for food delivery has abated. DoorDash revealed orders were up 35% over the quarter as it signed up its most customers in 12 months.

But wait times might be growing as some platforms report driver shortages and mull new ways to keep them on the clock, spooking investors in Uber and Lyft this week.

4. Growing Interest

This week it’s impossible not to talk about interest rates. Here in Australia the RBA raised them for the first time in a decade, lifting the cash rate from 0.1% to 0.35%.

Over in the U.S. rates are being hiked up in 0.5% increments. It doesn’t sound like much but the idea that rates will keep rising has made investors nervous.

Those hikes are partly why this week Wall Street had its best day since the pandemic began which was followed by its worst. Here’s why rates matter.

5. Guess Again

Remember when Wordle was just about the hottest game in the world? Remember when the New York Times bought it? Well the results are in and honestly, it paid off.

The Times, a publicly-traded company, revealed that its acquisition has brought in “tens of millions” of new users to the media platform.

While users don’t have to pay to play, it probably helped subscriptions which grew by almost 400,000 over the quarter. We’ll call that a winning streak.