Economics & Country Risk Blog

Clicks outpacing bricks: US e-commerce retail sales surged in Q2

E-commerce retail sales posted the strongest quarterly growth since 2011 in the second quarter. Seasonally adjusted online retail sales surged with a $5,159 billion increase over the previous quarter, a 4.8% jump, pushing the year-over-year growth rate to 16.2%.

Bricks taking a pounding from the clicks

Second-quarter e-commerce retail sales were 16.0% of retail sales excluding auto dealers, gas stations, food and beverage stores, and restaurants. This share stood at 15.6% in the first quarter of this year and 4.3% in the first quarter of 2005. IHS Markit expects e-commerce retail sales’ share of retail sales excluding auto dealers, gas stations, food and beverage stores, and restaurants to climb to 16.4% in the third quarter.

The continued growth of online sales as a share of total retail is not surprising given Americans' growing propensity for quick, accessible, and cost-effective options on the web, and increasingly, via mobile devices. What is somewhat surprising, however, is the sprightly pace e-commerce has been able to maintain. Some retail segments such as groceries are still in their infancy stages as far as e-commerce is concerned, so there is conceivably upside potential in some of these areas. Brick-and-mortar retail is not going extinct, but certain segments are certainly more at risk than others. Department stores have been confronted with this reality head-on, and are likely to experience some ongoing difficulty as technology and consumer preferences evolve.

Chris G. Christopher, Jr. is the Executive Director of US Macro, Global Economics, and Consumer Markets for IHS Markit.
Posted 30 August 2017

About The Author

Executive Director of US Macro, Global Economics, and Consumer Markets

Dr. Chris G. Christopher, Jr. is Executive Director in the US Macro, Global Economics, and Consumer Economics for IHS Markit. He brings over 25 years of experience as an economist, academic, forecaster, and  demographer. Prior to joining IHS, Christopher worked for FedEx Services in the forecasting department and as the Chief Econometrician for OIT. In addition, he worked as a research economist at Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI); the New York State Legislative Tax Study Commission; and as an associate professor, administrator, and university lecturer in econometrics, economics, and business. Christopher holds a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science, Master of Arts in economics, Master of Arts in mathematics, Doctorate of Philosophy in economics from the University at Albany. Dr. Christopher has taught graduate and undergraduate courses at various business schools and economics departments.

Dr. Christopher writes a quarterly column for CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly, has several academic publications, and writes perspective pieces for the mass media. He is a member of the Econometric Society, American Economic Association, and National Association of Business Economists (NABE). Chris is on the board of economic advisors for the New York State Assembly, and a member of the NABE Travel & Transportation Roundtable. In addition, Chris is a NABE Certified Business Economist (CBE), and Consensus Economics 2013 forecast accuracy award winner (US GDP & CPI).