The health of the U.S. e-commerce market remains strong, as new government data out this morning shows that consumers purchased $107.00 billion worth of retail products on the web in the third quarter. That’s an increase of 15.5% compared with $92.64 billion in the third quarter of last year, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
It’s somewhat of a slowdown from a blockbuster second quarter, during which e-commerce sales increased 16.3% year over year, the largest quarterly gain in five years. Still, the growth is in line or ahead of the typical quarterly e-retail growth of the past few years.
For comparison purposes, total retail sales, not including sales in restaurants, reached $1.269 trillion during the three months ended Sept. 30, up 4.0% over $1.220 trillion during the same period last year. By this definition of retail sales, e-commerce comprised 8.4% of the total. However, that underplays the impact of e-commerce since those retail figures include the sale of items not normally bought online, like gasoline and cars.
Factoring out the sale of gas and automobiles, retail sales reached $861.53 billion during the quarter, a 3.7% jump from $830.60 billion. Using those figures, the online portion of total retail spending in Q3 was 12.4%, up from 11.2% in the third quarter of 2016. Internet Retailer believes this is the most accurate way to measure the online component of U.S. retail sales.
Adjusted for seasonal variations, holiday and trading-day differences, the Commerce Department estimates Q3 web sales reached $115.35 billion, up 15.5% from $99.88 billion a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, e-commerce accounted for 13.1% of total Q3 retail sales excluding foodservice, automobiles and fuel, compared with 11.9% in Q3 2016.
This follows reports of big e-commerce gains from top retail chains and web-only e-retailers in the third quarter. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., No. 3 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 1000, for example, reported yesterday a 50% year-over-year jump in e-commerce sales for Q3. The merchant says its tripling of the number of products available for sale on its site in the last year—Walmart.com now offers 70 million SKUs—was largely responsible for the growth.
Target Corp. (No. 20) reported a 24.6% jump in online sales in its most recent quarter.
Web leader Amazon.com Inc. (No. 1) also had a monster Q3, as it reported North American net sales of $25.45 billion in the period ended Sept. 30, up 34.9% from $18.87 billion a year ago. Amazon does not publicly report total sales on its marketplace, including items sold by other merchants, but Internet Retailer estimates U.S. consumers purchased $44.49 billion on Amazon’s sites, up 28.8% from $34.55 billion.
That would mean Amazon was responsible for 41.6% of all U.S. online retail purchases during the third quarter, and accounted for 69.2% of the $14.36 billion growth in e-commerce.