August 9, 2012, 3:28 PM

E-commerce spending rises 15% in Q2

Online shoppers spent more than $43.2 billion in the second quarter, comScore says.

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Online retail sales jumped 15.0% in the second quarter, to more than $43.15 billion compared with $37.50 billion for the same period on 2011, comScore Inc. said today. The second quarter spending marks the eleventh consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth and seventh consecutive quarter of double-digit growth, the web measurement firm says.

Even though the second quarter’s growth rate didn’t match the first quarter’s 16.6% year-over-year gain, it is still impressive, comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni says. In fact, he notes it is nearly four times higher than the growth in overall consumer spending.

However, comScore says that economic uncertainty and a high unemployment rate could put a damper on online sales’ growth  for the rest of the year. “Even as commerce increasingly shifts to the online channel, any significant future pullback in overall consumer spending could dampen the strong double-digit growth rates we’ve been experiencing for the year,” he says.

E-commerce spending increased by at least 16.0% year over year in the following product categories:  digital content and subscriptions; computer hardware; consumer electronics; flowers, greeting cards and gifts; and apparel and accessories comScore says.

During the second quarter, 42.0% of e-commerce transactions included free shipping, down roughly 10 percentage points from the fourth quarter of 2011, when 51.8% of orders carried no shipping charges.

ComScore makes estimates of e-commerce sales based on tracking the online behavior of some 2 million consumers who agree to be tracked, about half of them in the United States.

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