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E-commerce News and Insights | February 25, 2020

E-commerce News: New Report Shows Record Bump


  • New U.S. Department of Commerce report lists huge overall e-commerce gains for Q4
  • Online shopping rises with highest annual percentage bump since 2000

The Story:

As the driver of a growing online business, the following piece of e-commerce news should be more than enough inspiration to push even harder in 2020. According to the 2019 Q4 information released last week by the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, e-commerce sales were 16.7% higher than they were in Q4 of 2018 (not seasonally adjusted). 

According to Digital Commerce 360: “The growth in penetration was the biggest annual percentage point jump at least since 2000, the first full year the department began tracking e-commerce spending.”

E-commerce vs. Retail Sales at Physical Locations

It’s reasonable to wonder whether it’s retail sales overall that are seeing such great momentum or e-commerce, in particular. Well, when combined, total retail sales increased, year over year from 2018 to 2019, but by 3.8%, which is nowhere near what we’re seeing for online retail transactions. 

Growth in Dollars

E-commerce sales for 2019 totaled $601.7 billion, a healthy boost of 14.9% from 2018. And, as pointed out by Wolf Street, Q4 e-commerce retail sales were an incredible $26.4 billion higher, year over year. In analysis of the report, it’s noted that this is the “biggest year-over-year dollar-gain in the history of e-commerce, as it continues to gain momentum, instead of losing it.”

E-commerce Retail Predictions

So, what’s likely to happen next? Although no one has a foolproof crystal ball, a recent study on B2C online sales backs up the report’s findings.

Figures listed for 2017-2019 are actual, in U.S. millions of dollars:

  • 2017: 274,755
  • 2018: 315,629
  • 2019: 365,207

And, here are projections for the next five years:

  • 2020: 419,879
  • 2021: 474,540
  • 2022: 524,091
  • 2023: 565,696
  • 2024: 599,186

Numbers aside, the clear takeaway is that e-commerce retail sales are predicted to keep climbing steadily. The study notes that this data is intended to reflect the “sale of physical goods via a digital channel to a private end user (B2C).”

This includes purchases made on both mobile and desktop. It doesn’t include any B2B sales, or streamed data—whether that’s ebooks or music, for example—or digitally distributed items, which could include music downloads, or concert and plane tickets. 

As far as knowing the actual numbers for 2020 Q1 e-commerce sales—and how they compare to the previous year—that report will be released on May 20, 2020.

How Much of Overall Sales is Online?

The Census Bureau data also provides insights into what percentage of overall retail sales took place online. For 2019, the answer is 11%, compared to the 2018 total of 9.9%. If the dollar amount of retail sales was small, then a 1.1% increase might not seem like much. But, since total e-commerce sales for 2019 was estimated to be nearly $602 billion, we’re not talking about petty cash.

Making 2020 a Success

With e-commerce sales projected to scale even higher highs, is your online business equipped to take full advantage of it? Check out a recent post for tips and insights on how to connect in a meaningful way with customers and prospects. 

Explore Shippo for quick, easy and affordable shipping solutions.

Kelly Boyer Sagert is a full-time freelance writer living in the Cleveland area. Her range of expertise spans business, finance, logistics, automotive, e-commerce and more.

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