It’s helpful to look at publicly available data of general M&A activity during the year to gauge the effect on eCommerce deals heading into 2021. The first half of 2020 saw a slow down and contraction of M&A activity across the board, particularly in mega-deals. This tracks with our eCommerce data showing a more robust second half of the year.
Several $5b+ deals were called off in industries particularly hit hard by the crisis. For example, early in the year Marathon Petroleum announced a deal to sell its Speedway brand of convenience stores to the parent company of 7-Eleven. The deal was called off in March 2020, due to the bottoming out of fuel prices. In August, the deal was back on reportedly for $21b instead of the original $22b.
In contrast, other brands continued their deal activity depending on their industry. For example, Just Eat purchased GrubHub in an estimated $7.3b deal. FedEx also closed its acquisition of ShopRunner in December 2020. Meal delivery services thrived during the peak of the pandemic as did shipping and logistics.
PWC reported a dearth of deals in Q2 2020 in the consumer market, with a sharp increase in both deal volume and deal value in Q3 and Q4. Within the consumer market, the retail segment experienced a marked increase, both in the Americas as well as globally. This M&A activity tracks with our eCommerce data.
There seemed to be a mid-year turn in optimism, which accelerated in late 2020. A new administration in the US offering a message of stability and normalization coupled with the roll-out of a comprehensive vaccine strategy, supports this economic optimism.