Economy Watch: E-Commerce Sales Growth Outpaces Traditional Retail

In the third quarter of this year, U.S. e-commerce sales increased 3.6 percent from the second quarter, while total retail sales increased just 1.1 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's latest report.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons user Intel Free Press

Internet-based commerce continues to grow—and grow faster than the rate of overall retail sales, the Census Bureau reported Nov. 20. U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the third quarter of 2017 totaled $115.3 billion, an increase of 3.6 percent compared with the second quarter.

By contrast, total retail sales for the third quarter of 2017 were estimated at $1.27 trillion, an increase of 1.1 percent from the second quarter of 2017.

Third-quarter 2017 e-commerce sales increased 15.5 percent compared with the third quarter of 2016, while total retail sales were up 4.3 percent year-over-year during the same period. The bureau calculates total sales adjusting for seasonal variation, but not for price changes.

E-commerce sales in the third quarter accounted for 9.1 percent of total U.S. retail sales. That metric has been increasing consistently for many years. At the beginning of 2008, e-commerce accounted for about 3.5 percent of all retail sales. Its growth as a percentage of retail sales has not stopped since, not even during the recession beginning in late 2008.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons user Intel Free Press