June 22, 2006, 12:00 AM

Slower annual U.S. web sales to come

The market for online retailing remains robust, but the annual growth rate will begin to slow, particularly as retailers concentrate on retaining their existing customers, according to a new report from eMarketer.

The market for online retailing remains robust, but the annual growth rate will begin to slow, particularly as retailers concentrate on retaining their existing customers, according to a new report from eMarketer. “From 2001 to 2005 online sales rose by an average annual rate of 26%, but we forecast that over the next three years total web sales will increase by only around 18% to 20% per year,” says eMarketer senior analyst Jeffery Grau.

Today, the average online shopper is female, age 44 and has annual household income of about $68,000, according to research from eMarketer. She also has a college degree, is more inclined to use an advanced Internet connection such as broadband to shop online and spends more than $360 per year on various purchases. “Online buyers are four years younger than the average consumer and have an average household income that is 30% higher,” says Grau. “They also like to shop online with 69% having made an online purchase in the past three months.”

But the online retail market also will slow to a more moderate growth rate in the foreseeable future, according to eMarketer. “This is not a cause for concern, but rather a sign of a maturing e-commerce market,” Grau says. There will be about 133 million online shoppers in the U.S. by 2009, up from about 118 million today. In 2009, the average online shopper will spend about $1,512 per year on various online purchases, compared with about $877 in 2005, according to eMarketer.

ComScore Networks Inc., expects U.S. web sales, excluding travel, to increase by about 24% in 2006 to $102 billion from sales of $82.3 billion in 2005.

 

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