Amazon-Walmart Rivalry for Consumer Retail Spend Turned in 2022

Amazon and Walmart apps on phone

PYMNTS Intelligence has closely watched the two leading U.S. retail giants — Amazon and Walmart — duke it out since 2019, sharing our findings in regularly released reports.

As our most recent edition of Whole Paycheck Report, “New Consumer Spend Data Finds Amazon Way Ahead of Walmart,” shows that, despite ever-changing market conditions, Amazon has leveraged a slow, steady climb that started in 2019 and has evolved into its current position of dominance over the U.S. retail market.

As the accompanying graph illustrates, as of Q1 2019, Amazon laid claim to 1.7% of total U.S. consumer retail spending (1 percentage point lower than Walmart’s 2.7% share, and at the scale of U.S. consumer spend, that is a large difference), and for more than a year, the eCommerce giant continued to significantly lag behind Walmart in terms of the retail consumers it served. That changed in Q3 2020, when sales for both organizations accounted for 2.9% of consumer retail spending.

After that, the tide began to turn in favor of Amazon.

From Q3 2020 through Q2 2022, the two retailers found themselves in a heated race, except for a new pattern that emerged where Amazon’s sales in the final quarter of each year surged past Walmart’s. Otherwise, the race between the two retailers was fairly neck and neck.

After their paths crossed in Q2 2022, Amazon’s sales numbers started surging past Walmart’s in a serious way (buoyed perhaps by a major shift in preferences for online shopping amidst the pandemic). The eCommerce giant hasn’t looked back since.

graph, Amazon share of consumer spending


More recent PYMNTS Intelligence data — as of Q4 2023 — confirms Amazon has extended its leadership by putting a stake in several key discretionary categories, including home furnishings, electronics, personal care items and clothing. Not only did sales in these areas help Amazon take control of 4.4% of all U.S. consumer spending as of Q4, but they also helped the Big Tech firm lay claim to 10% of all gross 2023 U.S. retail sales last year. At the same time, Amazon also saw a 17% growth spurt in its online sales year over year, with Q4 2023 online sales alone totaling $22.1 billion, accounting for 16% of all of its 2023 sales.

Walmart, meanwhile, trailed Amazon in Q4, 2023 online sales, but its overall performance was still noteworthy given Amazon’s online presence. While PYMNTS Intelligence data shows Walmart’s share of retail sales and consumer spending has been mostly flat quarter over quarter since early 2021, the company ended 2023 by capturing 7.3% of all U.S. consumer retail spending in Q4 2023. The retailer also captured 3% of all U.S. consumer spending that quarter, which translates into nearly $141 billion in sales.

Although this data reinforces Amazon’s current control of U.S. retail sales, it’s important to remember that Walmart is more than holding its own and, taken together, sales figures for both retailers accounted for 6.5% of all 2023 U.S. consumer spending last year.