According to Census Bureau figures released on Wednesday, Web-based sales are growing steadily, and accounting for an increasingly larger portion of overall retail sales. In Q3, e-commerce was estimated at $41.5 billion, an increase of 4% from Q2 of 2010, while total retail sales increased 0.8% from Q2 to $978.7 billion.
E-commerce sales were up in Q3 2010 a total of 13.6% YOY from Q3 2009, while total retail sales for the same period were up 6%. The figures were adjusted for seasonal variation, but not for price increases.
David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor’s, said in an interview that the figures showed that “obviously we’re spending more and more of our time on the computer, and less and less time at the shopping mall.”
Wyss pointed out that the data did not account for all those people who do their shopping online but end up making the final purchase at a store, such as when buying cars and furniture—a group that, according to anecdotal evidence, was also growing quickly. But despite that, he said, “E-commerce is still rising at double-digit rates, more than twice as fast as overall retail.” It tends to be concentrated, he explained, on certain “types of items, such as books—[things that are] basically easy to ship.”
Wyss added, “Now it still only accounts for 4.2% of total spending, but, frankly, I think that will go up when we see fourth-quarter numbers and everyone ships gifts off to their grandkids.”