September 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

Online sales surpass 5% of U.S. retail sales

Online sales surpass 5% of U.S. retail sales, as web sales top $54 billion in the second quarter.

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U.S. e-commerce sales accounted for $54.84 billion of seasonally adjusted total retail spending of $1.08 trillion in the second quarter; that's equal to 5.1% of total retail spending, according to an estimate released last month by the U.S. Department of Commerce. It is the first time that e-commerce as a percentage of total retail spending has topped 5%.

That spending puts Q2 e-commerce sales up 15.3% from $47.58 billion in the second quarter of 2011, according to the Commerce Department, while year-over-year total retail sales increased 4.3%. On a quarter-over-quarter basis, e-commerce grew 3.3% while total retail sales declined 0.4%.

Unadjusted for seasonality, U.S. e-commerce sales accounted for $51.18 billion in second quarter spending, or 4.7% of total retail spending of $1.09 billion, according to the Commerce Department. That puts e-commerce sales up 15.1% from $44.47 billion in the second quarter of 2011.

On a quarter-over-quarter basis, e-commerce sales increased 1.8% from Q1 2012, according to the Commerce Department.

When excluding sales in categories rarely bought online—automobiles, fuel and foodservice sales—Internet Retailer calculates that e-commerce accounted for 6.7% of total retail sales during the quarter, down slightly from 6.8% in the second quarter of 2011.

Web measurement firm comScore Inc. in August estimated online retail sales totaled nearly $43.15 billion during Q2, up about 15.1% from the $37.50 billion it reported for the same period in 2011. It estimated that 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.

Commerce Department estimates are based on a quarterly survey of more than 11,000 U.S. merchants. ComScore makes estimates of e-commerce sales based on monitoring the online behavior of some 2 million consumers who agree to be tracked, about half of them in the United States.

allison@verticalwebmedia.com

@AEnrightIR

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