Sales that took place outside of stores grew 8.4% year over year, the U.S. Commerce Department reported today.

New retail sales data released by the U.S. Commerce Department today shows that growth in what it calls nonstore sales slowed in August. However, an Internet Retailer analysis of the correlation between e-commerce sales and nonstore sales shows that e-commerce is holding steady, growing at 14.2% in August compared with last year.

Adjusted for seasonality, nonstore sales reached $51.71 billion in the month, up 8.4% compared with $47.70 billion in August of last year. That’s a significant deceleration from July, during which nonstore sales jumped 11.5% year over 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. The Commerce Department only reports e-commerce sales on a quarterly basis. The Commerce Department will report third quarter results in November.

A 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 second quarter of 2017, for example, the latest quarter for which data is available, e-commerce represented 72.5% of nonstore sales, Internet Retailer analysis shows. That compares with 68.8% in the second quarter of 2016.

Using those same percentages, this would suggest that in August, e-commerce sales reached roughly $37.49 billion, up 14.2% compared with $32.82 billion in August of last year. This is a slight acceleration in growth from July, when online retail sales increased 14.1%.


Another takeaway from the release today is that growth in sales occurring outside of physical stores far outweighs those in stores. Nonstore sales drove 30.1% of the $13.3 billion in total U.S. retail sales growth in August, the new data shows.

Total retail sales were $418.2 billion in August, down 0.3% compared with July July 2017 and up 3.3% compared with August of 2016.