New Stats: eCommerce As A Share Of U.S. Retail Sales

Two recent reports from eMarketer shed new light on trends in U.S. overall retail sales and how eCommerce will affect overall volume through 2018. Will consumers continue to shun the malls for shopping online with mobile devices?

U.S. retail eCommerce sales will grow to $304.1 billion by the end of this year, and will increase to to $491.5 billion by 2018, according to a new report from eMarketer, which says digital spending on books, music and video this year will grow the fastest of all categories, but not by much.

Indeed, so single category will grow significantly faster than another, the company says. However, in terms of spending, computer and consumer electronics tops the list, projected to total $66.4 billion this year and rising to $108.4 billion by 2018. Next highest in spending is the apparel and accessories category, at $52 billion and rising to $86 billion over the next four years.

On the bottom end of the growth curve though is spending in the food and beverage category, projected to be $7 billion this year and increasing to just $10.9 billion in four years.

“No category was more than 2 percentage points above or below the 16.9% increase in overall U.S. retail eCommerce sales in 2013, and that trend will remain consistent throughout our forecast,” eMarketer said in releasing the findings on April 11.

A day earlier, eMarketer reported that total U.S. retail sales topped $4.5 trillion in 2013, with the total projected to rise to $4.73 trillion this year and to $5.55 trillion by 2018. eCommerce represented a significant portion of the 2013 total – 16.9 percent of the growth, or $40 billion – eMarketer said in releasing those findings.

“While brick-and-mortar sales still command a vast majority of the retail market – nearly $4.27 trillion in 2013 –  eCommerce sales are increasing much faster, contributing significantly to retail’s overall growth throughout our forecast period,” eMarketer said. The company estimates that U.S. retail eCommerce sales will increase 15.5% in 2014, representing more than 20% of this year’s $199.4 billion increase in total retail sales.

In a January commentary, Market Platform Dynamics CEO Karen Webster noted the changing demographics and retail spending. Folks, she said, simply aren’t hanging out in the malls that often. In fact, stores during the past holiday season experienced 50 percent less foot traffic than just three years earlier. And in 2013, more than half of all eCommerce sales originated from mobile phones or tablets, Webster noted.

eMarketer said it does not expect shifts in how the total amount spent on eCommerce in the U.S. is doled out by product category. For example, computers and consumer electronics products, which have the greatest share of any category, at 21.8% projected for 2014, will stay in the top spot, with 22.1% of the total in 2018, eMarketer said. Similarly, this year’s No. 2 apparel and accessories category will inch up from 17.1% of total sales this year to 17.5% in 2018, when it will still be No. 2.











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