U.S. retailers’ nonstore sales reached $58.514 billion in October on a seasonally adjusted basis, a 12.1% increase compared with $52.193 billion in the same month of 2017, new monthly data from the U.S. Commerce Department shows.
That’s a slightly larger increase than September, when nonstore sales grew 11.8% on an adjusted basis year over year. 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.
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 third-quarter e-commerce sales results on Nov. 19.
A historical look at the correlation between U.S. retailers’ nonstore sales and e-commerce sales shows that e-commerce is a growing portion of nonstore sales. In the second quarter of 2018, for example, e-commerce represented 76.0% of nonstore sales on an adjusted basis, an Internet Retailer analysis shows. That’s compared with 72.5% in the same period a year earlier.
Using those same percentages, this would suggest that in October, e-commerce sales reached an estimated $44.471 billion, a 17.5% increase compared with $37.840 billion a year earlier.
Total retail sales reached $306.356 billion in October on a non-adjusted basis, up 5.6% from $290.094 billion a year earlier, according to Internet Retailer’s analysis of Commerce Department figures. These figures factor out goods not normally purchased online, including food services, gasoline and automobiles.
Nonstore sales on a non-adjusted basis reached $57.200 billion in October up 13.9% from $50.199 billion a year earlier.
Those results suggest strong retail and e-commerce spending this holiday season, says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the National Retail Federation. “The figures bolster expectations for the major shopping period of the year, the holidays,” he says. “Thanks to a high level of consumer confidence surrounding the current and future economy, we expect spending to maintain its strong momentum.”