Mobile Devices to Boost US Holiday Ecommerce Sales Growth - eMarketer

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Mobile Devices to Boost US Holiday Ecommerce Sales Growth

Mcommerce to increase its share of total ecommerce retail sales

September 5, 2013

Mobile devices account for a rapidly growing share of US retail ecommerce sales, and are expected to contribute to strong ecommerce sales growth this holiday season, according to eMarketer’s latest estimates.

eMarketer projects that retail ecommerce holiday sales in the US will rise about 15% again this year, matching last year’s gains. In total, US retail ecommerce sales for the holiday season—defined as November and December—are expected to reach $61.8 billion, up from $53.7 billion last year.

US Retail Ecommerce Holiday Season Sales, 2011-2013 (billions and % change)

Mcommerce is expected to play an important part in overall digital holiday retail spending. This year, mobile devices will account for a larger-than-expected share of total US retail ecommerce sales, according to the newly revised forecast. eMarketer expects that mobile’s share will reach 16% in 2013, up from our previous prediction of a 15% mcommerce share this year.

The revision comes as data sets from multiple research sources showed mcommerce as a percent of retail ecommerce sales reached record highs earlier this year. In addition, large retailers, such as Best Buy and Home Depot, continue to invest heavily in smartphones and tablets, building out their mobile app and website offerings, and increasing spending on digital advertising in an effort to drive more conversions across devices and compete with companies with strong mobile infrastructure like Amazon and eBay.

In total, eMarketer predicts retail mcommerce sales will reach $41.68 billion this year and by 2017, retail sales made on mobile devices will climb to well over $100 billion.

US Retail Mcommerce Sales, 2011-2017 (billions, % change and % of retail ecommerce sales)

eMarketer believes mobile devices contribute to overall commerce sales growth in two ways, both as a driver of total sales, as more consumers make purchases on their smartphones and tablets, and, increasingly, as a shopping research tool, driving consumers into stores or back to desktops where they complete transactions.

Tablets are particularly significant for mcommerce sales growth. As more consumers have embraced these devices for lean-back browsing of potential purchases, retailers have made greater efforts to make sure their tablet retail sites and apps are particularly rich and responsive. This year, eMarketer predicts, tablet retail mcommerce sales will hit $26.05 billion, or 62.5% of US retail mcommerce sales overall. That’s up from last year when tablets took a 56.2% share of mcommerce retail sales.

US Retail Mcommerce Sales, by Device, 2011-2017 (billions and % change)

That will leave smartphones with a 35.0% share of mcommerce sales, a percentage that will continue shrinking throughout the forecast period as sales on tablets maintain far higher growth rates. In 2017, smartphones will account for 27.0% of retail mcommerce sales, eMarketer predicts. But actual sales dollars spent on purchases made via smartphones will continue growing at healthy double-digit rates. This year, retail sales made on smartphones will total $14.59 billion, and that figure will more than double to $30.66 billion by 2017.

For the full-year 2013, total US retail ecommerce sales are expected to reach $262.3 billion, growing by 16.4% during the year. eMarketer predicts growth in the fourth quarter will reach 15.5% over the same period last year. That's compared to Q4 2012, when the US Department of Commerce reported a retail ecommerce gain of 15.73%.

US Retail Ecommerce Sales, Q1-Q4 2013 (billions and % change vs. same quarter of prior year)

eMarketer bases it retail ecommerce, mcommerce and holiday sales figures on analysis of data from its benchmark source, the US Department of Commerce, estimates from other research firms, historical trends, reported and estimated revenues from major online retailers, consumer online buying trends, indicators of macro-level economic conditions, and eMarketer interviews with executives at retailers, brands, ecommerce vendors and other industry leaders.

In this case, eMarketer evaluated more than 300 data points collected from over 60 research sources—analyzing methodology, definitions and historical accuracy of each—before building its model for US retail ecommerce, mcommerce and holiday sales.

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