February 24, 2005, 12:00 AM

The official score: Commerce Dept. says online sales were up 22.3% in Q4

Online retail sales reached $21.4 billion in the fourth quarter, up 22.3% from $17.5 billion a year earlier, the Census Bureau of the U.S. Commerce Department reported today.

Online retail sales reached $21.4 billion in the fourth quarter, up 22.3% from $17.5 billion a year earlier, the Census Bureau of the U.S. Commerce Department reported today. Online retail accounted for 2.2% of all retail sales, the first time that proportion by the Census Bureau’s reckoning exceeded 2%. In Q4 2003, online sales accounted for 1.9% of all retail sales.

Online sales in 2004 reached $69.17 billion, up 26% from $54.9 billion a year ago.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Q4 e-retail sales reached $18.4 billion, up 22.1% from a seasonally adjusted $15 billion a year ago.

Total retail sales not seasonally adjusted in the fourth quarter reached $987.6 billion, up 6.5% from $912.1 billion in Q4 2003. Total retail sales for the year on a not-adjusted basis reached $3.6 trillion.

The Census Bureau computes e-retail’s share of all retail using the total retail sales number. That number, however, includes certain categories that are not likely to ever be sold online, such as gasoline and sit-down meals.

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