US ecommerce sales grow to 15% of retail in first quarter

Ecommerce is on track for another trillion-dollar year, US Commerce Department data shows.


US ecommerce sales showed growth to start the year, and gained share of total retail.

The US Department of Commerce reported the following:

Ecommerce sales for the first quarter of 2023 were $272.6 billion, adjusted for seasonal variation.

That’s an increase of 3% from the fourth quarter of 2022.

On an annual basis, ecommerce sales increased 7.8% from the first quarter of 2022.

That’s well above the growth rate of overall retail sales, which were up 3.4% year-over-year.

In all, ecommerce sales in the first quarter accounted for 15.1% of total retail sales.

(Source: US Department of Commerce)

Quick takeaways:

A fast start: Retail sales crossed the $1 trillion mark for the first time in 2022. That momentum is continuing into 2023, as the $272 billion total for the first quarter provides a big head start in once again topping the 12-figure threshold.

Gaining share: While ecommerce’s share of retail spiked north of 16% during the pandemic years, it came back to the 14% range in 2022. The start of 2023 shows that more steady growth is continuing to settle in. It shows that ecommerce is still making gains despite the return to stores, albeit on a more gradual trajectory.

Choosing ecommerce: While retail sales overall are showing more tepid growth to start the year, the data indicates that online shopping continues to be an attractive option. It likely helps that online prices have been falling while overall inflation is continuing to push prices up across the economy. Retailers also have more robust infrastructure for fulfillment and delivery following massive buildouts in the pandemic, particularly at grocers and mass retailers. This combination of price and convenience is proving to lift sales, even as we move squarely into a period when ecommerce is a choice rather than a health and safety necessity.

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