First the shell shock faded, then the knee jerk reactions came. But relaxed restrictions have precipitated signs of mild recovery …

As the COVID-19 pandemic enters a new phase, and consumer habits shift amid loosening restrictions in daily life, nowhere is this trend more visible than in the world of e-commerce and online shopping.

Data by global app marketing platform Adjust now suggests that marketers are beginning to reverse a freeze in ad-spending on user acquisition as shoppers return to pre-COVID consumption patterns.

In the immediate aftermath of lockdowns, many e-commerce apps pulled back on spending for user acquisition and saw a marked decline of app installs and in-app sessions in late March. But since the beginning of April, Adjust found that e-commerce apps have begun to recover, with installs and in-app sessions on the rise, a sign that ad spend on user acquisition is resuming.

Although the app economy was largely resilient in the face of COVID-19, with people turning to apps more than ever, e-commerce apps had fared poorly by comparison. As reported in Adjust’s reviews, e-commerce app installs trended down 12% week-on-week through March 2020, as companies pulled advertising, with a decrease in paid installs of 35% from March to April.

Yet new data by Adjust now suggest these key indicators have returned to near pre-COVID levels. This follows an overall recovery in digital ad spending in general, as the economy prepares for more activity.

Said Sven Arn, CEO of Happy Thinking People, a global marketing research and strategy company: “Consumption patterns may not change as much after the lockdown as some are assuming. The reason is that many consumers expect behavioral changes in others and less in themselves. They criticize someone flying halfway around the world just to attend a business meeting, but are already anticipating taking a flight for their next vacation. So, we can probably expect quite a high degree of bounce-back in terms of consumer behavior.” Companies have already stepped up their game by focusing on re-engaging users. Comparing the last week of March to the last week of April, users returning to their favored e-commerce platforms have increased by 43%, thanks  to a combination of paid campaigning and users finally ready to purchase again.

Commenting on the data, Paul H. Müller, Adjust’s co-founder and CTO: “The e-commerce industry got a bit shell-shocked in the first few weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown in March, with marketers dialing back ad spend. Yet we’ve seen the vertical rebound in April, as marketers and consumers alike are learning to live with the situation and return to more established consumption patterns. So there’s been a broader push toward re-engagement and re-targeting, in line with bringing customers back into the funnel.”