U.S. retail ecommerce growth is moving toward pre-recession levels, according to a new report from comScore, Inc., an Internet marketing research company. ComScore released its first quarter 2012 U.S. retail ecommerce sales estimates, showing that online retail spending reached $44.3 billion, up 17 percent from $38 billion in the same period a year ago. This represents the tenth consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth, and sixth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth, comScore reports.
“The first quarter of this year was especially strong for retail ecommerce, as we returned to year-over-year growth rates in the high teens, numbers we haven’t seen since 2007,” said comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni. “While the economic recovery continues to be painfully slow, the channel shift to ecommerce appears to be accelerating. This presents opportunities for brick and mortar retailers, but also challenges, if they can’t hold onto their offline market share in the digital world. Ecommerce has reached critical mass in several product categories, and it will be important to monitor these sales trends by category, in order to correctly gauge the impact ecommerce is having on overall retailer performance.”
Top performing online product categories which increased revenues at least 17 percent over last year were Digital Content & Subscriptions, Computer Software, Consumer Electronics, Jewelry & Watches and Event Tickets. Notably, 48.8 percent of ecommerce transactions included free shipping, the highest percentage for a quarter on record outside of the holiday season. Only in the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2010 were the percentages of web transactions that included free shipping higher, at 51.8 and 49.3 percent, respectively. In addition, the comScore report revealed that 38 percent of tablet owners made a purchase on their devices in the month prior to the survey, with apparel the most popular category.