U.S. Retail E‑Commerce Sales Increased 15% in 2012

comScore, Inc. recently released its Full Year and Q4 2012 U.S. retail e‑commerce sales estimates. For the full year, U.S. retail e‑commerce sales reached $186.2 billion, an increase of 15% – the strongest annual growth rate since before the recession. Q4 2012 sales grew 14% year-​over-​year to $56.8 billion, marking the first ever $50 billion quarter. It also represents the thirteenth consecutive quarter of positive year-​over-​year growth and ninth consecutive quarter of double-​digit growth. online1

"2012 was a year in which – for the most part – e‑commerce continued to grow strongly, despite an uneven macroeconomic environment showing signs of recovery but also cause for continued concern," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. "With e‑commerce growth rates consistently in the mid-​teens throughout the year, it is clear that the online channel has won over the American consumer and will increasingly be relied upon to deliver on the dimensions of lower price, convenience and selection. The only real blemish on an otherwise outstanding year for e‑commerce was a holiday season that fell shy of initial expectations, apparently due to consumers' fiscal cliff concerns. To the extent that this pullback was just a temporary shock and not a sign of underlying economic weakness, we are optimistic that 2013 will build on the momentum of the past year."

Other highlights from Q4 2012 include:

  • The top-​performing online product categories were: Digital Content & Subscriptions, Consumer Electronics, Toys & Hobbies, Apparel & Accessories, and Books & Magazines. Each category grew at least 15% vs. year ago.
  • U.S. Retail E‑Commerce spending reached 10% of Total U.S. Retail spending for comparable categories (excluding Food, Gas & Auto), the first time it has reached double-digits.
  • The 14% year-​over-​year growth of retail e‑commerce spending in Q4 was driven by a 6% increase in the number of buyers and an 8% increase in spending per buyer.
[Source:  "2012 e‑Commerce Sales."  comScore.  7 Feb. 2013.  Web.  8 Feb. 2013.]