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Q1 '04 U.S. E-Com Sales = $15.5B

  |  June 1, 2004   |  Comments

The first quarter figures bode well for the coming year, registering a 28 percent gain over the previous year.

E-commerce estimates are in for the first quarter of 2004, and the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce found that online sales rang in $15.5 billion – representing a 28.1 percent increase over Q1 2003's $12.1 billion.

While online sales and the overall retail industry experienced declines in Q1 2004 from the last quarter of 2003, the portion of sales attributed to e-commerce remained the same. The holiday season boosted retail revenue to more than $912 billion in Q4 2003, with e-commerce contributing $17.5 billion or 1.9 percent. Total retail sales decreased 8.5 percent and online retail sales fell 11.4 percent in Q1 2004 from Q4 2003, but e-commerce representation remained steady at 1.9 percent of total retail sales.

Estimated Quarterly U.S. Retail Sales:
Total and E-commerce (in billions)
Period Retail Sales
E-Commerce E-commerce's
% of Total
Q4 1999 $787,212 $5,335 0.7%
Q1 2000 $714,561 $5,663 0.8%
Q2 2000 $774,677 $6,185 0.8%
Q3 2000 $768,139 $7,009 0.9%
Q4 2000 $812,809 $9,143 1.1%
Q1 2001 $724,73 $7,893 1.1%
Q2 2001 $802,662 $7,794 1.0%
Q3 2001 $779,096 $7,821 1.0%
Q4 2001 $850,265 $10,755 1.3%
Q1 2002 $738,185 $9,549 1.3%
Q2 2002 $814,626 $10,005 1.2%
Q3 2002 $818,061 $10,734 1.3%
Q4 2002 $859,250 $13,999 1.6%
Q1 2003 $767,433 $12,115 1.6%
Q2 2003 $852,760 $12,718 1.5%
Q3 2003R $867,242 $13,651 1.6%
Q4 2003R $912,109 $17,512 1.9%
Q1 2004P $834,829 $15,515 1.9%
Notes: Estimates are based on data from the Monthly Retail Trade Survey and administrative records, and are not adjusted for seasonal variation, holiday or trading-day differences, or price changes. Retail sales estimates exclude food service. E-commerce sales are defined as sales of goods and services where an order is placed by the buyer or price and terms of sale are negotiated over an Internet, extranet, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) network, electronic mail, or other online system. Payment may or may not be made online. R = revised; P = preliminary
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce

Shop.org's annual retailing study, conducted by Forrester Research of 150 retailers, revealed high e-commerce expectations for the year. The study predicts online sales (including travel) will grow to $144 billion in 2004, representing 27 percent growth over 2003.

The online sales increase will fuel double-digit growth in categories such as health and beauty (61 percent); apparel (42 percent); and flowers, cards, and gifts (41 percent).

The report expects total online sales to account for 6.6 percent of total retail sales in 2004, compared to 5.4 percent in 2003, and 3.6 percent on 2002.

Online sales figures were broken in 2003 when revenues climbed to $114 billion – a 51 percent increase over 2002. Compounding the good news about the sales figures, the study found that 79 percent of retailers were profitable in 2003, compared to 70 percent in 2002.

Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation, found robust growth in several online shopping categories in 2003. Online travel sales increased 91 percent over 2002 to $52.4 billion; home and office generated $11.1 billion; and computer hardware and software rang up $11.0 billion.

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