Pharmacies reduce their online sales: the sector loses 30% of its turnover

Online sales in pharmacy have experienced a 30% drop in the first five months of 2023, according to data from a study prepared by iSocialWeb. Within the total sales of pharmaceutical products (20,531 million euros in 2020), it can be seen that online pharmacies represent 35% of all sales.

A reality that contrasts with the figures recorded so far by pharmaceutical e-commerce, one of the fastest growing markets since the health crisis. And it is that online pharmacies registered an increase of 113% and 211% in 2020 and 2021, respectively; with a decline of 8.7% in 2022, according to IQVIA data. It should be noted that with the pandemic the purchasing needs of the Spanish changed and adapted. The Covid-19 gave a ‘tailwind’ to online income from the sale of pharmacies and parapharmacies through the network.

But every time it returns to normality and people go back to prefer the traditional pharmacies at street level to buy health-related products. “This responds to the end of the pandemic alert and back to normal It has been a major setback in the sale of Covid-related products such as masks and hydroalcoholic gels, which led sales in 2020 and a good part of 2021”explains Álvaro Peña, co-founder of iSocialWeb and Growwer.

Specifically and by category, the x-ray shows a different behavior between the different products: while non-prescription medicines remain stable, those related to the Covid lose ground and cosmetics continue to be the section that accumulates the most sales in pharmaceutical marketplaces on the Internet. In 2022, cosmetic products grew 11.2% in sales compared to 2021, setting a sales record in Spain, exceeding 9.2 billion euros, according to STANPA data.

But what are the consequences of this shift in shopper behavior for most online pharmacies? From iSocialWeb they highlight “margins and profits have been reduced in 2022 as a result of the impact of inflation and the impossibility of transferring the increase in costs in its entirety to the final consumer due to the great competition existing on the Internet. In addition, the categories with the best margin, such as non-prescription drugs or Covid products, have decreased or remained flat, while cosmetics has grown, being the most affected by the price war where online pharmacies compete with other players. like perfumeries or giants like Amazon or El Corte Inglés”.

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