Home Delivery and Electronic Payments on the Rise During the Pandemic in Costa Rica

The confinement and reduction of income, due to COVID-19, changed the consumption habits of Costa Rican households which now resort in a greater degree to home deliveries and electronic payments. This finding was included by the Central Bank of Costa Rica in its latest report on the performance of the Monthly Index of Economic Activity (IMAE), published last week.

According to the document, since the arrival of the Pandemic to the country in March, a series of changes have been evidenced in the consumption pattern of Costa Ricans, which are fundamentally associated with a decrease in income and a longer stay in homes.

In the first case, the loss of jobs and the reduction in working hours had an impact on the resources available to families for consumption, while teleworking and virtual education would have caused a reduction in travel. Both phenomena were manifested in an increase in purchases through digital platforms and home delivery.

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According to the analysis of the Central Bank, based on the mobility of people, there is a decrease of more than 40% in the use of public transport and visits to shops and leisure places, such as restaurants, cafes, shopping centers , theme parks, museums, libraries and cinemas. “These data help to explain the decrease in demand for clothing and accessories, footwear and fuels,” says the report.

On the other hand, visits to supermarkets also show a significant reduction, although less than that of other businesses. This would reflect the restrictions on entry to these establishments and the increase in the purchase of goods through digital platforms, including home delivery services. The use of these digital platforms is also confirmed with the increase in the use of electronic means of payment.

In October 2020, transactions on the Sinpe Móvil interbank platform reached a total of 7.9 million, for a year-on-year variation of 1031%. This use would have been extended to other economic activities such as commerce, which in turn demands complementary services such as courier services.

This brought with it good news: the development of information technologies translated into an increase in exports of these services, even when most of the country’s economic activities contracted.

Data from the Central Bank also indicate a decrease in the sales of products that are usually marketed in educational centers such as sweets, chocolates and beverages, but also an increase in purchases made by households of food used for their preparation within the home (meats , sausages, rice, flour, fruits and vegetables, among others), as well as cleaning goods (soaps and disinfectants).

The changes in consumption patterns are also observed in external demand

“Thus, for example, in exports of medical devices, one of the most important industries in the country, there is a reduction in external sales of non-essential medical products (for example, breast implants associated with elective surgeries) and instead there is an increase in the placements of forceps for gastrointestinal biopsies, hemostasis clips, drainage catheters, orthopedic insoles and equipment for respiratory therapies”, added the report.

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