Beer, wine, and liquor online sales in South Africa increased by 1,787% in 2020

PayFast has released its new Ecommerce Performance Index (PEP Index) which revealed that beer, wine, and liquor was the fastest growing ecommerce category in South Africa.

The PEP Index researchers used payment and buyer data collected through the PayFast engine between 1 September 2019 and 31 August 2020.

They also used the results from a PayFast merchant survey and interviews with ecommerce experts that were conducted in September 2020.

This data was then interpreted to better understand the boom in the market and to shed light on online shopping trends in South Africa.

PayFast MD Jonathan Smit said 2020 has been a shot of adrenaline to the ecommerce sector, with the COVID-19 pandemic boosting adoption rates across the board.

It is estimated that ecommerce will double its retail market share this year from the previous 1-2% in 2019 to 2-4% by the end of the year.

“We saw a 100% increase in online transactions between April and May 2020, which is in line with growth seen in established ecommerce markets across the globe,” said Smit.

He said when ecommerce logistics restrictions were lifted in May, online payment volumes rose by 98%.

“This growth has been sustained throughout the rest of the year, making for an interesting trend ahead of the coming Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend,” said Smit.

Online shopping trends in South Africa

Smit said the COVID-19 pandemic forced many South African businesses to shift to digital or face shutting down.

“Around 60% of merchants noted a shift in sales from physical outlets to online stores since March, with 42% reporting an increase in revenue over lockdown,” said Smit.

The PEP Index revealed a few interesting ecommerce trends that emerged in 2020.

  • 29,193 new merchants registered with PayFast in 2020, up from 22,823 in 2019.
  • Beer, wine, and liquor sales was the fastest growing industry with an increase of 1,787%.
  • The peak time for online shopping in South Africa is weekdays between 11:00 and 12:00.
  • The average basket size in 2020 is R803.
  • The highest online transaction in 2020 so far was R850,668.

The images below provides an overview of some of the most prominent findings of the 2020 PayFast Ecommerce Performance Index.

Top growth industries (year-on-year growth)


Transaction volumes




Mobile versus Desktop


PayFast Ecommerce Performance Index report

Now read: Black Friday 2020 in South Africa – Where to find the best deals

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Beer, wine, and liquor online sales in South Africa increased by 1,787% in 2020