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Solid Digital Purchasing Growth in Argentina at a Crossroads

Strong revenue gains in Argentinean pesos, but less so when measured in US dollars

A new Cámara Argentina de Comercio Electrónico (CACE) study conducted by Prince Consulting in Q4 2013 found that consumers in Argentina were embracing digital purchases. According to the survey, business-to-consumer (B2C) and consumer-to-consumer (C2C) digital transactions combined reached ARS24.80 billion ($4.53 billion) last year.

CACE and Prince Consulting estimated that the category expanded at a 48.5% rate during 2013 in local currency terms, and they expected this to increase by an additional 42.0% to reach ARS35.22 billion ($6.44 billion) in 2014.

When ecommerce sales are calculated in dollars, however, the picture is less rosy. Accounting for the sliding value of the Argentinean peso compared with the US dollar, eMarketer estimates B2C ecommerce sales in the country expanded by just 6.3% to reach $3.58 billion in 2013. And while our January 2014 update projected a 24.0% increase this year, bringing sales up to $4.44 billion, this did not account for the precipitous drop the local currency suffered shortly after. As of March 27, 2014, the exchange rate stood at US$1=ARS8.01, according to OANDA.

While CACE and Prince Consulting predicted digital purchasing in the embattled South American nation would once again rise at over 40% this year, much of that growth is tied to rampant inflation—more than 7% in just the first two months of 2014, according to Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos (INDEC)—and erased when expressed in US dollars.

eMarketer estimates Argentina will continue to be the smallest individual B2C ecommerce market among the Latin American countries for which we produce estimates, growing at a 13.9% compound annual growth rate between 2012 and 2017 to reach $6.45 billion by the end of the forecast period.

But there is a brighter side. According to the CACE and Prince Consulting findings, the number of digital buyers in Argentina experienced solid growth of 25.3% in 2013, reaching 12.4 million consumers—or 38.8% of internet users. And average spending per digital buyer went from just ARS914.50 ($167.18) in 2010 to ARS2,000 ($365.63) last year.

eMarketer benchmarks our Argentina B2C ecommerce sales projections against CACE data, for which the last full year measured was 2012. Brazil data was converted at an exchange rate of US$1=BRL2.16. Mexico data was converted at an exchange rate of US$1=MXN12.76. Due to currency fluctuations, eMarketer’s Argentina data for each year has been converted at that year’s average exchange rate. The 2013 exchange rate was US$1=ARS5.47, and the 2012 exchange rate was US$1=ARS4.55.

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