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Economy in Brief

E-Commerce Sales Strengthen
by Tom Moeller  February 19, 2020

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that during the fourth quarter of last year, retail sales via the internet (E-Commerce) increased 2.6% (SA) from Q3. The gain followed a 4.6% Q3 rise, and was the weakest increase since Q4'18. E-Commerce sales increased 16.7% y/y, up from an 11.5% y/y gain in Q4'18.

This strength compares to a lesser 0.4% quarterly rise (3.8% y/y) in retail sales last quarter. As a result, E-Commerce sales rose to 11.0% of total retail sales last year, up from 9.9% in 2018 and 4.4% in 2010.

E-commerce sales are sales of goods and services where the buyer places an order, or the price and terms of the sale are negotiated over an Internet, mobile device (M-commerce), extranet, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) network, electronic mail, or other comparable online system. Payment may or may not be made online. Estimates are adjusted for seasonal variation, but not for price changes. Total sales estimates are also adjusted for trading-day differences and moving holidays.

The retail sales and retail E-Commerce sales data can be found in Haver's USECON database.

Q4'19 Q3'19 Q2'19 Q4'19 Y/Y 2019 2018 2017
E-Commerce Sales (%) 2.6 4.6 4.8 16.7 14.9 13.6 16.0
Total Retail Sales (%) 0.4 1.3 1.8 3.8 3.4 4.6 4.5
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