Allegr ALGR o, Poland’s top e-commerce platform—and rival to Amazon AMZN —floated in spectacular fashion today, with shares ending the day 62.8% above their opening price of Polish Zloty 43 ($11.40).
The surge pushed the value of the company up from an implied opening market capitalization of $11.7 billion to just over $19 billion—indicating just how eager both institutional and retail investors are for online stocks during the Covid-19 pandemic, as high demand for e-commerce services continues.
In the case of Allegro, its strong market position in Poland makes it an attractive proposition. In its September analysis, SimilarWeb ranks the allegro.pl site fourth in the country behind the .com sites of Internet giants Google GOOG , YouTube and Facebook. Interestingly, Allegro moved ahead of google.pl last month, pushing the latter down to fifth. Meanwhile at the global level, SimilarWeb ranks Allegro 14th in the world for e-commerce and shopping.
Allegro processed an average of 32 million monthly transactions in the 12 months to June by connecting more than 12.3 million active buyers with over 117,000 merchants.
Those merchants use the group’s online marketplace to sell products across very varied categories including electronics, home and garden; sports and leisure; kids; automotive; fashion and shoes; health and beauty; books, media, collectibles and art; and supermarket goods.
According to Allegro, its marketplace platform attracts the equivalent of 63% of Polish residents aged 16 and above, and 76% of all Internet users in Poland, the European Union’s fifth most populous country with just over 38 million inhabitants.
Will online’s share of retail sales stall?
The retail market in Poland had seen continuous and rapid growth from 2013 to 2019, according to data from Statistics Poland (see chart). However due to Covid-19 impacts, the government department recorded a year-on-year decline of 3.5% from January to August this year.
Online penetration of this market has grown from about 5.8% in 2016 to approximately 8.4% in 2019 but it is not certain that this increase in share will necessarily continue. Michael Jary, senior advisor at London-based strategy consultancy OC&C points to the U.K. where online penetration of non-food retail jumped from 20% to nearly 30% in April and May, but by June “online penetration had begun to shrink again”.
Allegro cites Britain’s strong online market share in its argument that there is still significant room to grow the e-commerce component of Poland’s still relatively under-penetrated retail market.
While this makes sense in what is still a highly unstable Covid-19 scenario—with daily deaths in Poland far exceeding the country’s first wave—Statistics Poland says that in August, compared with July, there was a drop in the share of retail sales from the Internet. The slip from 6.5% to 6.1% was small, but it mirrors not just the U.K. situation but also South Korea and China.