Ecommerce was growing fast before COVID-19 hit. But the pandemic pushed even more U.S. consumers online, contributing an additional $105 billion in U.S. online revenue in 2020 and accelerating ecommerce by two years, Digital Commerce 360 estimates.

Ecommerce thrived in 2020 because of store closures and shoppers’ fear of contracting the coronavirus in public. But the foundation was set for online retail years before the pandemic hit. Ecommerce has been growing consistently and accounting for a large share of retail sales for years. Over the last decade, U.S. online sales have grown between 13% and 18% each year. This compares with growth offline (mostly in stores) that hasn’t been higher than 4% since 2005, according to Digital Commerce 360’s analysis of U.S. Department of Commerce data.

Therefore, by the start of 2020, retailers had already made substantial investments in marketplaces, mobile and omnichannel strategies. When COVID-19 became widespread in the U.S. and shoppers turned to the web, ecommerce was ripe for success.

Ecommerce sales hit $791.70 billion in 2020, up 32.4% from $598.02 billion in the prior year, according to Commerce Department figures. That’s the highest annual online sales growth of any year for which data is available and also more than double the 15.1% year-over-year jump reported by the Commerce Department in 2019.

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