Online sales accounted for more than a third of total retail sales growth in 2015, according to data released this morning from the U.S. Commerce Department. When factoring out items not normally bought online such as fuel and automobiles, e-commerce accounted for more than 10% of all of retail sales.

E-commerce sales remained strong in 2015 as web sales totaled $341.7 billion for the year, a 14.6% increase over 2014’s $298.3 billion, according to non-adjusted estimates released this morning by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Total retail sales grew 1.5% on a non-adjusted basis to $4.71 trillion from $4.64 trillion, when factoring out foodservice sales and sales at restaurants and bars. Online sales accounted for 7.3% of total retail sales in 2015 versus 6.4% in 2014, and e-commerce accounted for 60.4% of total retail sales growth.

When further factoring out sales of automobiles and fuel—items not normally bought online—total retail sales grew by $120.2 billion (3.8% year over year) to $3.25 trillion from $3.13 trillion in 2014. E-commerce, on the other hand, grew by $43.5 billion last year on a non-adjusted basis, which means online sales accounted for 36.2% retail sales growth.

By this definition, e-commerce comprised 10.5% of retail sales in 2015 versus 9.5% in 2014.


On an adjusted basis, full-year web sales were $340.8 billion.

The largest e-retailers in North America are responsible for the vast majority of these online sales. Merchants ranked in the Internet Retailer Top 1000 represent 85.7% of online retail sales in the U.S. They collectively grew U.S. sales 14.0% in 2015 to $293.15 billion from $256.16 billion.

This is the sixth year in a row that U.S. e-commerce sales have grown near or above 15%.

For the fourth quarter, retailers sold $107.1 billion online, a 14.5% increase over $93.5 billion in Q4 last year, and an amount that represents 31.3% of full-year e-commerce sales.


Adjusted for seasonal variations, holiday and trading-day differences, the Commerce Department estimates Q4 web sales reached $89.08 billion, up 14.7% from $77.66 billion a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, e-commerce accounted for 7.5% of total Q4 retail service excluding foodservice, up from 6.6% in Q4 2014.