In 2001, the last full year where numbers are available, the U.S. Department of Commerce broke out e-commerce sales versus total U.S retail sales which revealed the U.S. $3.16 trillion retail industry saw a total of $37.7 billion in sales take place online -- comprising 1.2 percent of the total.
This year e-commerce is tracking about the same. Through the third quarter, the last full quarter where numbers are available, total retail sales were $856 billion versus $11 billion in e-commerce, about a 1.3-percent share.
Although online shopping is growing, even if it grew 10 percent per year and the rest of retail remained stagnant it would take until 2013 before e-commerce garnered just more than 10 percent of total sales.
Although the numbers are not large, the data shows that "channel shifting" is taking place on the part of consumers toward online shopping, according to Max Kalehoff, a senior manager at comScore Networks, a Reston, VA, U.S.-based company that tracks online shopping. "If you look at the total economy, this season has been one of the worst [for retail sales] in recent memory, but the online sector is still doing quite well. What you have is a redirection of sales from offline to online channels," Kalehoff added.
The numbers from comScore for the week before Christmas released show significant growth for the online retail industry. Sales totaled $1.9 billion, a 19 percent increase from a week before Christmas 2001. With two weeks left to the end of the fourth quarter, e-commerce spending is expected to total about $13 billion -- up almost 30 percent from last year. While sales of computers and high-tech peripherals were down by about 1 percent over last year there were big gains made in Home and Garden, a 78 percent increase; Furniture and Appliances, a 75 percent increase; and Toy shopping online with a 61 percent increase. (InfoWorld)
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