Over the past 20 years, e-commerce has steadily risen in size and reach. According to Statista’s Digital Market Outlook, roughly 270 million Americans will make an online purchase this year, but how big is e-commerce really in the grand scheme of things?
As the following chart, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, shows, the impact of online shopping on total retail sales in the United States is still smaller than many people might think. In the third quarter of 2019, e-commerce accounted for 10.5 percent of total retail sales, the third highest share ever and the highest for a non-holiday quarter.
While 10.5 percent doesn’t seem like a lot considering the perceived importance of e-commerce, it needs to be noted that total retail sales include categories such as motor vehicle and parts dealers, gas stations and of course grocery stores where e-commerce plays a very minor role. Excluding such categories, the market research firm comScore puts the share of e-commerce in consumer spending at almost 20 percent.