Note: This is a monthly feature published by ChannelAdvisor highlighting the Same Store Sales (SSS) across our wide range of thousands of retailers and billions in GMV. Details on the SSS including background, methodology, disclaimers and schedule can be found in this post.
Today we are releasing February 2013 data for Marketplaces (eBay/Amazon), Search and Comparison Shopping Engines (CSE) along with supplemental data. In the world of e-commerce as we look at y/y trends it’s important to understand any anomalies in the calendar that can distort (positively or negatively) the data. February 2013 is one of those months because of leap year. Last year, 2012 was a leap year so had an extra day (Feb 29, 2012) in the month vs. the 28 days we have this non-leap year. If you do the math on that and assume every day is created equal (which they aren’t, but bear with me), then the missing day adds a ~3.6% headwind to y/y comparables. So as we look at these numbers, it’s natural for them to be ~4% lower than last year’s data due to the missing day in the y/y comparison.
Additionally, there has been a fair amount of press talking about pressure on the US consumer due to a perfect storm of tax refund delays, payroll tax changes (up) and headline risk from the sequestration political backdrop. Also February in the US saw a plethora of winter storms with names like Nemo, Orko, Plato, Q and Rocky that hammered the MW and NE regions. Keep these external factors in mind as we review the data and we’ll look for correlations where possible.
February 2013 SSS Results (A non-leap year)
- Amazon – In February, Amazon came in at 30.8%. When you compare that to January’s 34.3%, and normalize/account for leap year (30.8%+4%=34.8%), it’s actually a bit higher than January’s pace.
- eBay – eBay’s SSS for February came in at 8.2% (12.2% normalized for leap year) our lowest measurement since April 2011. Further in the report we provide eBay internal component details which provide details on the February dip.
- CSE – Comparison Shopping came in at a 0.5% y/y (4.5% normalized) positive growth for February. CSE slowness appears to be driven by overall consumer sluggishness as January was 7.9%, so when normalized that’s a ~3% y/y decline.
- Search – Search came in at down 0.9% (4.9% normalized) which given January’s down 1% is a pretty interesting increase. We have search details in this report that provide more colour.
The following chart details the SSS data for February 2012 through February 2013: (click to enlarge)
As mentioned, eBay’s February 8.2% y/y SSS growth was an unexpected slow-down from the January/December 18.8-22% range of growth. 4% of that is attributable to the leap year. To get a feel for what else is driving the marketplaces’ performance, here are the interior datapoints for the month:
- eBay auctions – Down 20.3% y/y – Auctions continued their decreases in February. Same story here we’ve been seeing for the last couple of years, so this was not really a contributor, especially when you factor in the leap year.
- eBay fixed-price – Up 15.6% y/y – On the surface, February’s 15.6% increase for FP listings, is a real slowdown, but when we add 4% for the leap-year effect, 19.6% is still growing above e-commerce growth rates. eBay’s FP business is most exposed to overall macro-economic influences and could reflect the broader consumer confidence concerns.
- eBay Motors (parts and accessories) – Up 6.8%, which is the slowest measurement we’ve seen since breaking out eBay details (even with the benefit of a leap-year 4% adjustment). P+A tends to be weather influenced as it is hard to work on your car when you have a foot of snow on the ground. Based on the winter storms mentioned, we believe the P+A slow-down was largely weather related. As we defrost into the Spring with March+April, it will be interesting to see if P+A comes back as there is probably a fair amount of pent-up demand waiting for the snow to clear.
Based on the eBay details, the overall trend was driven primarily by the slow-down in the P+A business, and the softness in FP growth. Given that FP is still materially higher than over-all e-commerce, we believe this is a blip and not a sign that eBay’s turnaround is over or stalled.
Here are the TTM (trailing twelve month) trends on these eBay internals.
Supplemental data for Search
Here are the February Search internals:
Search saw a bit of an increase from January’s -1% to -.9% or 3.1% with leap-year normalized. Looking at the internal data, we continued to see cannibalization from PLA/Google Shopping (clicks down 7%), but search CR’s ticked up nicely to 3.1% (a y/y increase of 3) along with AOV which helped generate a positive outcome even in the face of click cannibalization.
Supplemental data for Google Shopping
In August 2012, we introduced a new set of data around Google Shopping. Here is the February Google Shopping supplemental data:
So far with Google Shopping/PLAs, things are up and to the right – increasing conversion rates and AOVs continue to drive very strong ROI for this program for retailers. Most of the improvements are driven by retailers improving their still-early campaigns and figuring out to optimise this new program.
February saw a few speed bumps for e-commerce between the tough leap-year comp, macro consumer confidence concerns and a plethora of Winter storms. Given that backdrop, Amazon came in particularly strong, followed by eBay’s fixed price business, Google Shopping and vanilla search (Adwords). eBay’s P+A business was under a lot of pressure due to weather and the CSE segment was hit by consumer confidence.
We’ll have to see how March comes in to get a read on the first quarter, hopefully Mother Nature cooperates and we don’t see the next set of storm names on the weather channel: (Saturn, Triton, Ukko, Virgil, Walda, Xerxes, Yogi, Zeus are next).
This blog post was written by Scot Wingo, CEO, ChannelAdvisor. eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor.