E-Commerce Sales See Continued Growth

    February 26, 2007

US e-commerce sales were not only healthy for the fourth quarter of 2006 but were at their highest levels in four years according to the US Census Bureau. On an unadjusted basis, sales reached $33.9 billion, up around a third from the third quarter of 2006.

For the fourth quarter of 2006 e-commerce estimate increased 25.0 percent from the previous year while total retail sales increased 4.0 percent in the same period. E-commerce in Q4 2006 comprised 3.3 percent of total sales.

"Retail e-commerce sales for Q4 2006 exceeded expectations by increasing 25% over the same quarter a year ago," said Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer senior analyst. "This is the biggest jump in Q4 sales since 2002 and is additional evidence that the Internet channel is stealing sales away from retail stores."

For 2006 e-commerce sales were estimated at $108.7 billion, an increase of 23.5 percent from 2005. Total retail sales for 2006 rose 5.8 percent over 2005. E-commerce sales accounted for 2.8 percent of all sales in 2006, and 2.4 percent of total sales in 2005.

Both offline and online retail holiday sales have continued to grow over the last four years, according to eMarketer’s calculations of Census Bureau data. In 2002 US Holiday retail sales were $368.8 billion. In 2006 holiday retail sales reached 454.9 billion.

While online retail sales have been a small portion of overall retail sales, if growth rates continue, offline-only retailers could start to shift towards taking their business online.

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