Census Bureau Says Q1 E-commerce Sales Total $38.7B
Adjusted U.S. retail e-commerce sales totaled $38.7 billion in Q1 2010, a 1.5% increase from $38.1 billion in Q4 2009, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Adjustments Make Big Difference
There was a substantial difference between estimates adjusted for seasonal variation, but not price changes, and unadjusted estimates. On an adjusted basis, Q1 2010 retail e-commerce sales grew 14.3% from Q1 2009 e-commerce sales of $33.9 billion, and accounted for 4% of total sales of $960 billion.
However, removing seasonal adjustments, Q1 2010 e-commerce sales were $36.6 billion, an 18.9% decrease from $42 billion in Q4 2009. On a year-over year unadjusted basis, Q1 2010 retail e-commerce sales increased 14% from Q1 2009 and accounted for 4.1% of total sales of $897 billion in Q1 2009.
Adjusted E-commerce Sales Show Steady Quarterly Growth
Adjusted for seasonal variation, retail e-commerce sales have shown a steady quarter-over-quarter growth pattern for the past year. In Q1 2009, adjusted e-commerce sales grew 1.7% to $33.9 billion, and then grew another 2.8% to $34.8 billion in Q2 2009. This was followed by 5.1% growth to $36.6 billion in Q3 2009, and then a 4.2% jump to $38.1 billion in Q4 2009.
Year-over-year growth was less steady. Compared to the same quarters in 2008, adjusted retail e-commerce sales dropped 6.6% in Q1 2009 and 4.8% in Q2 2009. Positive year-over-year growth occurred in the third (1.7%) and fourth (14.6%) quarters.
Unadjusted E-commerce Sales Show Varied Results
In contrast to the fairly stable adjusted results, unadjusted retail e-commerce sales show much wider variance on both a quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year basis. In Q1 2009, unadjusted e-commerce sales totaled $32.1 billion, an 18.3% drop from the prior quarter and 7% drop from the prior year. Q2 2009 unadjusted retail e-commerce sales totaled $32.8 billion, a 2% quarterly increase but 5.2% annual decline.
In Q3 2009, unadjusted retail e-commerce sales were $34 billion, representing 3.9% quarterly growth and 1.6% annual growth. Fourth quarter unadjusted results were $42 billion, representing much higher 32.8% quarterly growth and 15% annual growth.
comScore Tracks almost $34B in Q1 E-commerce Spending
U.S. retail e-commerce spending neared $34 billion in Q1 2010, according to data (based on different metrics) from comScore.
comScore estimates indicate that US retail e-commerce spending from home, work and university locations totaled $33.98 billion in Q1 2010. This represents a 10% increase from $31.03 billion in Q1 2009 and a 13% decrease from $39.05 billion in Q4 2009. The strong year-over-year acceleration marks the first time annual growth rates have hit double digits since retail e-commerce sales rose 13% in Q2 2008.
Upper Income Households Spur Growth
Although Q1 2010 returned the US retail e-commerce market to double-digit growth, comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said there is no guarantee this growth will continue.
"While these spending gains provide reason for optimism, we should note that upper-income households are currently shouldering much of the growth," said Fulgoni. "Should the economy falter in the second half of the year and upper-income consumers return to a savings mode, we could still see growth decelerate. But for the time being, this momentum is encouraging."
Other Q1 Highlights
Growth in the first quarter was predominantly driven by upper-income consumers, with spending among the $100,000-plus household income segment up 14%.
Pure play (online-only) retailers continued to gain e-commerce spending market share from multichannel retailers.
Larger online retailers continued to generate higher growth rates than smaller retailers, but the smaller retailers are finally beginning to see positive growth once again.
About the comScore Data: Retail e-commerce growth rates exclude the travel, auction, auto and large corporate purchase segments.
E-commerce Fraud Losses Drop
E-commerce fraud appears to be on the wane, according to a recent survey from payment management solutions provider CyberSource.
According to the "11th Annual Online Fraud Report," projected 2009 fraud losses to U.S. and Canadian online retailers is $3.3 billion USD, a 17.5% decline from $4 billion USD worth of fraud losses reported in 2008. This is the first drop in estimated e-commerce fraud losses since 2003.
In addition, online retailers projected they would lose 1.2% of their online revenue to fraud this year, compared to a rate of 1.4% reported from 2006-2008. This is the lowest percentage revenue loss in the history of the survey.