February 17, 2015, 12:35 PM

U.S. annual e-retail sales surpass $300 billion for the first time

Web sales totaled $304.91 billion in 2014, up 15.4% from 2013, according to Commerce Department estimates released today. Q4 sales of $95.98 billion accounted for 31.4% of full-year web sales.

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2014 was another banner year for U.S. e-retailers. Web sales blew past the $300 billion threshold for the first time, closing the year at $304.91 billion, on an unadjusted basis, according to estimates released Tuesday by the U.S. Commerce Department. Web sales were up 15.4% from $264.28 billion in 2013.

On an adjusted basis, full-year web sales were $303.94 billion.

This is the fifth year in a row that web sales growth has been close to or above 15%.

E-retailers generated 31.4% of full-year sales in the fourth quarter. Unadjusted Q4 sales were $95.98 billion, up 14.7% year over year from $83.71 billion.

On an annual basis, e-commerce, accounted for approximately 6.5% of total unadjusted retail sales excluding foodservice—mainly restaurant and bar sales—up from 5.8% in 2013, according to the Commerce Department When further excluding sales of autos and fuel, which don’t commonly occur online, Internet Retailer calculates e-commerce accounted for 8.3% of total unadjusted retail sales during 2014, up from 7.4% in 2013.

During the fourth quarter, e-commerce accounted for 7.7% of total retail sales excluding foodservice, up from 7.0% a year earlier, according to the Commerce Department’s unadjusted figures. When further excluding sales of autos and fuel, Internet Retailer calculates e-commerce accounted for 9.6% of total unadjusted retail sales during Q4.

Adjusted for seasonal variations, holiday and trading-day differences, the Commerce Department estimates  Q4 web sales reached $79.57 billion, up 14.6% from $69.43 billion a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, e-commerce accounted for 6.7% of total Q4 retail service excluding foodservice, up from 6.1% in Q4 2013.

Total unadjusted retail sales excluding foodservice grew 3.8% in 2014, closing the year at $4.70 trillion.

Separately, the National Retail Federation trade group released its economic forecast for total retail sales and online sales growth for 2015. It projects retail sales, excluding automobile, fuel and foodservice sales, will increase 4.1% this year. It expects the non-store sales category, which is made up primarily of web sales, to grow between 7% and 10%.

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