March 1, 2013, 12:00 PM

U.S. web sales exceed $225 billion in 2012, as growth tops 15% for third year in a row

U.S. web sales exceed $225 billion in 2012, as growth tops 15% for third year in a row.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

Lead Photo

U.S. online sales climbed to $225.5 billion last year, up 15.8% from $194.7 billion in 2011, according to U.S. Commerce Department estimates released last month. This is the third year in a row that online sales growth exceeded 15%. Web sales again outpaced total retail sales, which increased 4.2% in 2012, excluding sales of automobiles and parts, the Commerce Department says.

Online sales for the fourth quarter totaled $71.6 billion not adjusted for seasonality, up 36.3% from the third quarter of 2012 and up 15.8% year over year. It was the thirteenth consecutive quarter of year-over-year e-commerce growth of at least 12.9%. Total retail sales, excluding sales of autos, increased 3.49% in Q4 to reach $940.0 billion.

The Commerce Department figures, not adjusted for seasonality, show that e-retail continues to account for a larger part of total retail sales in the United States. 5.2% of total retail spending took place online during 2012, up from 4.7% in 2011, according to the Commerce Department.

On a non-adjusted basis, when excluding sales in categories not commonly bought online—automobiles, fuel and foodservice sales—Internet Retailer calculates that e-commerce accounted for 7.6% of total retail sales during the year, up from 6.8% in 2011. On a non-adjusted basis, total retail sales—which include e-commerce sales but exclude autos and vehicle parts—totaled $3.5 trillion in 2012, up 6.0% compared with $3.3 trillion in 2011, according to the Commerce Department.

E-retailers fared especially well during the holiday season compared to stores. On a non-adjusted basis, when excluding sales in categories not commonly bought online—automobiles, fuel and foodservice sales—Internet Retailer calculates that e-commerce accounted for 8.8% of total retail sales during the fourth quarter compared with 7.8% a year earlier.

katie@verticalwebmedia.com

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