U.S. ecommerce sales grew 14% last year, say early estimates from market researcher Digital Commerce 360


In 2021, ecommerce growth rates “normalized,” with 2021’s 14% growth rate for online sales on par with 14% median growth rate during the five years leading up to the pandemic.

Photo © AdobeStock.com/ iamchamp

Photo © AdobeStock.com/ iamchamp

U.S. ecommerce gains did not disappoint in 2021, according to new early estimates from ecommerce market researcher Digital Commerce 360. According to the market researcher’s estimates, online consumer spending with U.S. merchants grew 14% in 2021, reaching $871 billion. While that growth rate is half the 32% growth rate seen in 2020, a record-breaking year for ecommerce in the U.S., in 2021 “it’s noteworthy that the industry maintained gains—and even grew—compared with the earlier giant surge in ecommerce.”

In 2021, ecommerce growth rates “normalized,” with 2021’s 14% growth rate for online sales on par with 14% median growth rate during the five years leading up to the pandemic. Online sales accounted for 19% of total retail sales in the U.S. in 2021.

Ecommerce sales continued to grow even as shoppers returned to brick-and-mortar outlets last year. In fact, Digital Commerce 360 reports that ecommerce and offline spending in the U.S. grew at roughly the same rate last year. Said the report: “With a large swath of the country vaccinated in 2021, shoppers headed back to stores. Offline sales grew a record 14.0% last year, Digital Commerce 360 estimates—more than five times the 2.6% uptick in 2020 and nearly 2.5 times higher than the second-place finisher at 5.7% in 2004. The huge spike in store sales means that ecommerce accounted for far less of the overall gains in retail spending—less than a quarter, or 19.4%, in 2021 vs. more than two-thirds, or 69.1%, the prior year.”

Amazon.com is still the leader, growing its share of the U.S. ecommerce market even further in 2021, with Amazon.com sales now accounting for 42% of all of U.S. ecommerce sales. And while Amazon’s sales growth did slow toward the end of last year, the giant is still in a good place, with sales, including those of Amazon’s third-party marketplace merchants, growing 17% last year to $364 billion in 2021.

The data reported by Digital Commerce 360 precedes updated U.S. ecommerce sales reports that will be released on February 18, 2022, by the U.S. Department of Commerce. To arrive at its estimated data, Digital Commerce 360 said: “Instead, to get a preliminary look at the U.S. online retail landscape for 2021, Digital Commerce 360 made Q4 estimates based on a variety of indicators: year-to-date financial performance of public companies; client data from technology companies with insight into online transactions and retail shipment volume; an analysis of site traffic for 2,000 merchants; interviews and surveys with online retailers of all types and sizes; and government or trade group data, such as current and historical gross domestic product figures, consumer confidence indices and Commerce Department retail figures.”

More details on the Digital Commerce 360 report are available here.

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