On 17 August, the U.S. Census Bureau released its 2010 Quarter 2 estimates of e-commerce volume in the U.S. Around 4.1 percent of total retail sales in the country are attributed to e-commerce activities. The first graph is from the U.S. Census Bureau report and charts the growth in percent of total retail sales attributable to e-commerce since the first quarter in 2001.
The total volume of retail sales and e-commerce sales for the past five quarters (Q2 2009 – Q2 2010) contains good news for e-commerce businesses: growth in e-commerce sales for the past three quarters is more than 14 percent higher than sales for the same periods one year ago. U.S. e-commerce sales growth is over two times higher than regular U.S. retail sales growth for the past three quarters.
Using quarterly data obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau website (Q4 1999 through Q2 2010), one can easily calculate total annual U.S. e-commerce sales and growth. The table below shows a steady increase in the annual growth of total U.S. e-commerce sales for the 2000-2009 period.
Total sales via e-commerce have grown from $27.6 billion in 2000 to $143.4 billion in 2009, a compound annual growth rate of 20.11 percent. This is an impressive accomplishment, given the economic turmoil that the country has experienced during this period (including the dot.com crash). Growth in total e-commerce sales is steady but slowing down, as illustrated by the graph below.
So all is positive and e-commerce is the way to go, right? Maybe. An interesting graph is obtained by charting the annual growth rate of e-commerce for the 2000-2009 period (based on the information presented in the table above). Since 2002, the growth rate in e-commerce has consistently and steadily declined, while gross sales have increased (chart above). The impact of the current recession on e-commerce growth is readily apparent when comparing the 2007-2009 periods.
Clearly, in terms of gross sales, e-commerce is expected to continue its positive growth for the foreseeable future, albeit at a slower pace than in the past. Mobile commerce (or m-commerce) is expected to offer a significant positive impact on the total e-commerce volume for the next five years plus. For marketers, both e-commerce and m-commerce offer more opportunity for growth than does traditional retail.