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Total retail sales in the US topped $4.53 trillion in 2013, and ecommerce accounted for a significant portion of that growth, up 16.9% in 2013—or nearly $40 billion—according to new figures from eMarketer.
This is eMarketer’s first-ever benchmark of total retail and retail store sales, which are based on a multimodel analysis of 169 data points that eMarketer gathered from 47 research firms and government institutions. The forecast separates retail ecommerce sales—including all purchases made on desktop and laptop computers, tablets and mobile phones—and nonecommerce sales, which mostly comprise brick-and-mortar retail purchases.
Retail growth is a reflection of what’s happening in the broader economy, which is gaining momentum. The Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a new high early in 2014, and consumer confidence, as measured by The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, rose in February after three months of decline. Total retail sales are leading economic growth, increasing 4.2% in 2013, according to eMarketer’s forecast, which projects total retail sales to accelerate further in 2014, increasing 4.4% to reach $4.732 trillion.
In 2013, retail represented 27.0% of nominal US GDP, up from 26.8% in 2012, comparing eMarketer figures against GDP figures from the US Department of Commerce. That share has been increasing consistently since a drop-off in 2009, when consumer confidence was at a low after the recession.
While brick-and-mortar sales still command a vast majority of the retail market—nearly $4.27 trillion in 2013—ecommerce sales are increasing much faster, contributing significantly to retail’s overall growth throughout our forecast period. eMarketer estimates that US retail ecommerce sales will increase 15.5% in 2014 to reach $304.1 billion, up from $263.3 billion in 2013. That growth will represent more than 20% of this year’s $199.4 billion increase in total retail sales.
Ecommerce still represents a small portion of overall retail sales—a mere 5.8% last year. However, ecommerce will continue to increase in the double digits year over year to bring its share of overall retail to almost 9% by the end of our forecast period.
Retail mcommerce is on a rapid rise as well, steadily gaining share of overall ecommerce. In 2013, retail mcommerce—which includes products and services ordered on mobile devices, including tablets—increased 70.0% to reach $42.13 billion. eMarketer estimates that in 2014, that figure will increase another 37.2% to total $57.79 billion, or about one-fifth of all retail ecommerce sales and 1.2% of total retail sales. In 2014, tablet sales will account for nearly two-thirds of mcommerce sales, eMarketer predicts, increasing to nearly 75% by the end of our forecast period.
eMarketer bases all of our forecasts on a multipronged approach that focuses on both worldwide and local trends in the economy, technology and population, along with company-, product-, country- and demographic-specific trends, and trends in specific consumer behaviors. We analyze quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of research firms, government agencies, media outlets and company reports, weighting each piece of information based on methodology and soundness.
In addition, every element of each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all our forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of each forecast means those assumptions and framework are constantly updated to reflect new market developments and other trends.
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