May 21, 2010, 2:39 PM

E-retail sales rose 10% in the first quarter, comScore says

Online retail sales grew 10% to $33.98 billion in the first quarter, marking the first time growth rates reached double digits since the second quarter of 2008, according to web measurement firm comScore Inc.

Online retail sales grew 10% to $33.98 billion in the first quarter, marking the first time growth rates reached double digits since the second quarter of 2008, according to web measurement firm comScore Inc.

The U.S. Commerce Department this week reported Q1 e-commerce growth of 14.3%. The Commerce Department estimate comes from a survey of retailers, whereas comScore bases its estimate on the web activity of consumers who permit comScore to track what they do online.

First quarter growth was largely driven by upper-income consumers, with spending among households that earn more than $100,000 up 14% in the quarter, says comScore.

“The first quarter returned the U.S. retail e-commerce market to healthy double-digit growth rates,” says comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. However, he warns that since upper-income households are shouldering much of the growth, if the economy falters in the second half of the year and those households decide to save more, the growth could decelerate.

Here are comScore’s estimates of online retail spending (in billions) and year-over-year percentage change from 2007 to 2010, excluding auctions, autos and large corporate purchases:

  • Q1 2007: $27.97, 17%
  • Q2 2007: $27.18, 23%
  • Q3 2007: $28.44, 23%
  • Q4 2007: $39.13, 19%
  • Q1 2008: $31.18, 11%
  • Q2 2008: $30.58, 13%
  • Q3 2008: $30.27, 6%
  • Q4 2008: $38.07, -3%
  • Q1 2009: $31.03, 0%
  • Q2 2009: $30.17, -1%
  • Q3 2009: $29.55, -2%
  • Q4 2009: $39.05, 3%
  • Q1 2010: $33.98, 10%
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