U.S. e-commerce continues to drive growth in the retail sector, as nonstore sales jumped 11.5% in July, the U.S. Commerce Department reported today. Total retail sales increased 4.3% year over year.
In the first month of the third quarter, nonstore sales adjusted for seasonal variations totaled $52.74 billion, compared with $47.31 in July 2016. The 11.5% jump in July is a significant acceleration from June, during which nonstore sales increased 9.3% over the same month last year.
Nonstore sales mainly take place online, but also include other sales that take place outside of stores, including mail and telephone orders, door-to-door sales and sales through vending machines.
Internet Retailer uses the monthly nonstore figures disclosed by the Commerce Department as an early indicator of the health of the e-commerce market, on which the agency reports sales on a quarterly basis. The Commerce Department reports on second quarter U.S. e-commerce sales on Thursday morning, and third quarter results will be released in November.
An historical look at the correlation between nonstore sales and e-commerce sales shows that e-commerce is a growing portion of these sales. In the first quarter of 2017, for example, the latest quarter for which data is available, e-commerce represented 70.3% of nonstore sales. That compares with 68.7% in the first quarter of 2016.
Using those same percentages, this would suggest that in July, e-commerce sales reached roughly $37.1 billion, a 14.1% jump from $32.5 billion in July 2016. That’s a slight deceleration from the first quarter, during which e-commerce sales grew 14.8%.
An acceleration in retail sales growth online and offline in July was partly due to an improvement in the housing market, according to the National Retail Federation. Sales in the building materials and supplies category were some of the strongest online and offline in July, growing 1.2% compared with June 2017 on an nonadjusted basis.
“Consumer spending remains solid as retail sales saw healthy improvements in July and revised June numbers were also positive,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “We have yet to see the full effect of back-to-school spending, but pickup in spending was evident both online and in general merchandise, which includes bricks-and-mortar department stores. Rising home values are encouraging home-improvement spending and home-related retail purchases.”Favorite