Consumers spent $145.74 billion online with U.S. retailers in the third quarter, up 17.3% from $124.21 billion for the same period in 2018, according to retail data released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Commerce. This is significantly higher than the year-over-year ecommerce growth registered in the first six months of the year, when web sales in Q1 increased 11.6% and in Q2 jumped 13.6%. Last quarter’s rate also marks the highest quarterly growth since Q4 2011, when online revenue spiked 18.6% over the same period the previous year.
While a banner year for Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Day sale in July undoubtedly contributed to the strong showing, some analysts are pointing to the retailer’s investments in shortening delivery times from 2- to 1-day shipping and Walmart Inc. expanding its online grocery service as the major reasons why ecommerce flourished last quarter.
Overall, retail performed well in Q3, Commerce Department figures indicate. Total retail sales through all channels grew a healthy 4.8% year-over-year, reaching $938.57 billion versus $895.54 billion in Q3 last year. The nearly 5% growth represents the largest uptick in Q3 total sales since 2014, when retail sales increased 4.9%. These figures are based on a Digital Commerce 360 (formerly Internet Retailer) analysis of non-seasonally adjusted Commerce Department data and exclude sales in segments that don’t typically sell items online such as restaurants, bars, automobile dealers, gas stations and fuel dealers.
Half of all gains in retail spend for the quarter came from revenue generated online. Ecommerce penetration of retail sales hit 15.5% in the third quarter, up from 14.9% in Q2 and 13.9% in Q3 of last year. Online’s share of total retail sales has nearly tripled in the last decade as shoppers get increasingly comfortable buying online.
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