This was just shy of Q2’s year-over-year increase, which was the highest growth posted for e-commerce in nearly two years. Factoring out the sale of products not normally conducted online, e-commerce accounted for 11.3% of retail sales during the period.

The third quarter was another great one for e-commerce in the United States, as online retail sales reached $93.67 billion, a 15.6% increase compared with the same time last year, the U.S. Commerce Department reported this morning. This is only slightly behind the second quarter’s 15.9% year-over-year growth, which was the largest increase posted in nearly two years.

In comparison, total retail sales excluding foodservice (or sales in restaurants or bars) reached $1.22 trillion during the three months ended Sept. 30, a 2.3% increase. That’s a slight improvement over Q2, during which total retail sales grew 2.1% year over year. That means e-commerce accounted for 7.7% of total retail sales excluding foodservice, up from 7.5% in Q2 of this year, but in line with the same percentage in Q1.

When further excluding sales of automobiles and fuel—products not commonly bought online—InternetRetailer calculates that e-commerce accounted for approximately 11.3% of total non-adjusted retail sales during the quarter, up more than a full percentage point from 10.1% in the third quarter of last year.


Adjusted for seasonal variations, holiday and trading-day differences, the Commerce Department estimates Q3 web sales reached $101.25 billion, up 15.7% from $87.53 billion a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, e-commerce accounted for 12.0% of total Q3 retail sales excluding foodservice, automobiles and fuel, up from 10.7% in Q3 2015.

In August, when the Commerce Department reported a preliminary estimate for Q2 e-commerce sales, it reported that online retail sales increased 15.8% year-over-year. The agency has since revised that estimate, and now says e-commerce did a bit better than predicted—it grew 15.9% during the second quarter.

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department reported October nonstore sales increased 12.9% year over year, while total retail sales improved 4.3% for the month. Nonstore sales occur mainly on the web but also include categories of retail sales that are declining, such as mail and phone orders and door-to-door sales.