LONDON — As the world’s stock markets tumble and financial markets slump, people are turning to online sales to make their financial lives easier.
And a new study says it might be the right time to get in on the action.
The online shopping craze, known as the “gift economy,” has been gaining momentum over the past few years.
In a survey of more than 500,000 people in North America, Europe and Asia, research firm eMarketer said online sales rose in the first quarter of 2018 to $8.4 billion.
The rise has been driven by two factors.
First, the popularity of the so-called “gifts economy” has grown as online shopping has expanded and the demand for gift cards has increased, said the research firm.
Second, a growing number of people are choosing to buy gifts for their family members and friends.
In 2018, roughly a quarter of the overall population said they were willing to buy something, said eMarketers.
In other words, a significant portion of people have started looking for ways to give, said co-founder and CEO of eMarkers Brian Kelly.
And it’s not just buying gifts online.
People are looking to spend as much money as they can.
While eMarkets data suggests most of us would spend more if we could, we may be giving our friends and family a better gift, he said.
The trend is picking up steam as the financial markets recover.
In 2017, online sales jumped more than 70% from the first two months of the year to $2.7 billion.
That’s compared to the same period a year earlier, when they declined 5%.
This year, eMarkettes research showed the trend has picked up even more, with online sales up more than $3.4 million from the end of February to the beginning of March.
That trend could continue, Kelly said.
As eMarketts research indicates, people in countries such as the U.K. and the U-S.
are buying more gifts for themselves and family members.
“The gift economy is here, it’s here to stay, and it’s getting stronger,” he said in a statement.
That is, for now.
However, the rise in online sales and the potential for spending gifts is already starting to make some people think about whether they should buy more in the near future.
“We’re seeing some people buying gift cards for their loved ones, and then getting the gift card in the mail or in the post,” Kelly said in the statement.
“But there’s also a lot of people who might just be thinking about buying a new laptop.”
And while the trend is strong, it is not the only one.
The “gifting economy” also involves buying and selling used cars.
That trend is growing, too.
In 2017, e-commerce site Craigslist reported that sales of used cars grew 37% year-over-year to $3 billion.
However, Kelly warned that while the gift economy may be gaining traction, it may not be a quick one to pick up.
“I think the gifting economy is still nascent, so it could take time for people to really get into it and feel comfortable with buying gift items for themselves,” he added.