November 11, 2010, 11:04 AM

E-commerce emerges from the recession with a larger share of consumers’ wallets

Online retail accounts for up to 8% of consumer spending, comScore says.

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E-commerce’s share of consumer spending is approaching 10%, says comScore Inc. chairman Gian Fulgoni. The web measurement firm reports that e-commerce sales, excluding sales from the auto and foodservice categories, have accounted for between 7% and 8% of total retail sales for the last four quarters.

E-commerce sales through the third quarter also increased 8.9% compared with the same period last year. E-commerce accounted for $98.9 billion in sales through the third quarter of 2010 versus $90.8 billion a year ago. Third quarter e-commerce sales this year reached $32.1 billion, up 8.4% from $29.6 billion a year ago, comScore says.

“As we climbed out of the recession, sales improved moreso in e-commerce [than in other retail] as it gained share of consumers’ wallets,” he says, adding that e-commerce sales are now greater than they were before the recession.

The largest e-retailers benefit the most from increased spending, comScore data reveal. The top 25 e-retailers, as measured by the research firm, captured 69.9% of e-commerce sales during the third quarter, compared with 64.4% for the same period last year. “The big are getting bigger,” Fulgoni says, adding that large e-retailers are far outspending smaller e-retailers on marketing as economic conditions improve and consumer spending rebounds.

Middle-income households drove the largest increase in online spending growth during the third quarter. Online spending for households earning $50,000 to $99,999 annually grew 11% from a year ago. Fulgoni says the increased online spending stems from the benefits of shopping online. “The benefits of e-commerce, such as better prices, larger assortments and convenience are really appealing in these economic situations,” he says. 

All measured e-retail categories grew during the third quarter compared with a year ago, comScore reports. Categories posting the strongest growth, 10% or greater, were books/magazines, computers/peripherals/PDAs and consumer electronics. The weakest growth categories, which posted growth of 1% to 4%, were home and garden, furniture/appliances/equipment and sports and fitness.

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