Cautious consumer spending had an impact on online sales in the second quarter, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported today.
Online retail sales in the second quarter were down 4.5% from Q2 last year, the Department of Commerce reports. Sales in Q2 2009 were $30.8 billion compared to $32.2 billion a year ago, on a basis that does not adjust for trading days or price changes. On an adjusted basis, sales declined 4.4% to $32.4 billion from $33.9 billion a year earlier.
By comparison, Internet audience measurement company comScore Inc. reported last week that Q2 online sales were down 1% from the year-earlier quarter.
The Commerce Department reports that total retail sales fell 10.6% on a not-adjusted basis and 10.7% on an adjusted basis. However, almost all of that decline was the result of falling gasoline prices and the pullback in auto sales. Factoring out those two areas, retail sales fell 1.7% in Q2 vs. a year ago. The Commerce Department reports a plus or minus factor of 2.1% in its online sales estimate.
The difference in numbers between comScore and the Commerce Department is partly the result of methodology and partly a matter of what each organization counts. ComScore extrapolates its data from the behavior of a panel of online consumers who have granted comScore permission to monitor their online activity. The Commerce Department bases its numbers on a survey of retailers, then projects those numbers to the market.
Neither organization reports sales at eBay.com, although the Commerce Department includes the fees that eBay generates in its retail sales.