New figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce suggest online sales in December grew a healthy 18.5% year over year, reaching nearly $41 billion.
For all of 2017 what the Commerce Department calls “nonstore sales” reached $624.966 billion in 2017, a 10.4% increase compared with $566.090 billion in 2016. Nonstore sales mainly take place online but also include other channels such as mail and telephone orders, door-to-door sales and sales through vending machines.
For just December, nonstore sales totaled $55.562 billion, up 12.7% from $49.316 billion a year earlier on an adjusted basis. For Q4, nonstore sales on an adjusted basis totaled $163.120 billion, 11.0% from $146.965 billion a year earlier.
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 agency will release its fourth quarter and full-year e-commerce results on Feb. 16.
A historical look at the correlation between nonstore sales and e-commerce sales shows that e-commerce is a growing portion of nonstore sales. In the third quarter of 2017, for example, e-commerce represented 73.5% of nonstore sales, Internet Retailer analysis shows. That compares with 69.9% in the third quarter of 2016.
Using these figures, Internet Retailer estimates U.S. e-commerce sales in December totaled $40.838 billion, up 18.47% from $34.471 billion a year earlier. The 18.5% growth estimate is in line with figures from Salesforce Commerce Cloud, an e-commerce platform provider which bases its estimates on sales of 2,750 e-commerce sites and 350 million shoppers in 53 countries.
In Q4, Internet Retailer estimates that U.S. e-commerce sales hit $119.893 billion, up 16.7% from $102.728 billion a year earlier. And for all of 2017, U.S. online sales totaled $452.99 billion, up 16.2% from $389.68 billion a year earlier, Internet Retailer estimates.
For December, the Commerce Department says total retail sales grew 5.4% to reach $495.381 billion compared to $469.798 billion a year earlier.