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E-Comm Sales Swell in 2020, Total Retail Sales Also Tick Up

Total U.S. e-commerce sales in 2020 jumped by 32.4 percent, accounting for 14 percent of total retail sales, which also grew -- and both show few signs of slowing in 2021.

RugNews.com Editors
graphic of retail e-commerce sales
Internet sales are expected to continue to grow over the next several years. Source: eMarketer & InsiderIntelligence.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- While estimated U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the fourth quarter of 2020 decreased slightly from the third quarter of 2020, sales for all of 2020 soared to an estimated slightly more than $790 billion, an increase of more than 30 percent from 2019, according to the latest data available from the Census Bureau. Total retail sales in 2020 also increased, but by a more modest 3.4 percent from 2019, the bureau reported.

In addition, e-commerce sales in 2020 accounted for a growing portion of the total retail pie increasing to 14 percent of total sales, according to Census Bureau data. Compared to 2019 e-commerce sales that accounted for 11 percent of total sales. What's more, according to a report by research firm Insider Intelligence, retailers like Amazon and Walmart cashed in big during the 2020 e-commerce boom.

In fact, the coronavirus pandemic was a key factor in the online sales surge as consumers turned to online channels to purchase goods to avoid trips to the store, not only during the pandemic's early-lockdowns but but also during the holiday shopping season, according to Insider Intelligence research analyst Adriana Nunez.

"Insider Intelligence thinks retailers like Amazon and Walmart cashed in big during the 2020 e-commerce boom, and likely plan to leverage this surge as a growth tool into 2021," Nunez stated. "Despite some hiccups along the way, Amazon was a clear winner in 2020: The etail giant ended the year with $66.45 billion in online store sales for Q4.

In addition to amazon.com's clear leadership in online sales, "Walmart was also a clear e-commerce winner throughout 2020: The firm wrapped up its final quarter of 2020 with 79 percent YoY growth in online sales—likely boosted by its in-store network, which it has been using to amplify fulfillment efforts. More recently, Walmart said it plans to invest heavily in building up an automated ecommerce fulfillment network—perhaps indicative of its belief that online shopping will continue to swell.

"E-commerce doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon—and online shopping will likely have lasting impacts on the overall retail sector, helping boost digital payments along the way. Retailers will likely ramp up their digital offerings as consumer shopping habits continue to lean in favor of e-commerce," Nunez stated in her analysis.
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