Total retail sales in the U.S. reached more than $4.5 trillion in 2013, and e-commerce accounted for a large part of that growth, up 16.9 percent in 2013, according to market research firm eMarketer.
Total retail sales are leading economic growth, increasing 4.2 percent in 2013, according to eMarketer’s forecast, which projects total retail sales to accelerate further in 2014, increasing 4.4 percent to reach $4.732 trillion this year.
In 2013, retail represented 27 percent of nominal U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), up from 26.8 percent in 2012, comparing eMarketer figures against GDP figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce. That share has been increasing consistently since a drop-off in 2009, when consumer confidence was at a low after the recession.
The forecast separates retail e-commerce sales—including all purchases made on desktop and laptop computers, tablets and mobile phones—and non e-commerce sales, which mostly comprise brick-and-mortar retail purchases.
While brick-and-mortar sales still dominate the retail market—nearly $4.27 trillion in 2013—e-commerce sales are increasing much faster, contributing significantly to retail’s overall growth throughout the forecast period. eMarketer estimates that U.S. retail e-commerce sales will increase 15.5 percent in 2014 to reach $304.1 billion, up from $263.3 billion in 2013. E-commerce growth will represent more than 20 percent of this year’s increase in total retail sales.
Mobile retail sales are increasing also, steadily gaining share of overall e-commerce. In 2013, retail m-commerce—which includes products and services ordered on mobile devices, including tablets — increased 70 percent to reach $42.13 billion. eMarketer estimates that in 2014, that figure will increase another 37.2 percent to total $57.79 billion, or about one-fifth of all retail e-commerce sales and 1.2 percent of total retail sales.