Exciting news from Internet Retailer: despite grim sequester predictions and a general belt-tightening attitude, U.S. web sales have had quite the strong year in 2012, exceeding $225 billion and 15% year-over-year growth. In fact, this is the third year in a row of online sales growth topping 15%, as per the following figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce:
U.S. e-tail sales growth by year
How does this compare with total retail sales? It leaves them in the dust with a mere 4.2% increase in 2012, excluding sales of automobiles and parts. The figures get even more dramatic when we look at just the fourth quarter with its holiday boost: web sales totaled $71.6 billion not adjust for seasonality, a 36.3% boost for Q3 2012. All told, that constitutes 13 consecutive quarters of year-over-year e-commerce growth above 12.9%. Now there’s cause for celebration!
Simply put, e-tail’s growing portion of total retail sales is here to stay. In 2012, it accounted for 5.2% of total retail spending; on a non-adjusted basis and excluding sales in categories not commonly bought online (cars, fuel, foodservice), that translates to a 7.6% share of total retail sales in 2012, up from 2011’s 6.8%.
This may seem like a bunch of sanctimonious number-crunching, but it does demonstrate the advancing rate of retailers’ investment in (and consumer comfort with) an online paradigm. Online retail has proven itself a sea change more profound than the vagaries of national economic climate or even popular trends. It’s a truly global phenomenon demanding customized, responsive vehicles from entrepreneurs in its midst. No longer can one’s online presence remain a token effort to “appease a demographic” or “get it over with”—we’ve entered the age of plugged-in grannies and e-wallets. The wave continues!