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Economy in Brief

U.S. E-Commerce Sales Rise 3.3% q/q in Q2'21
by Winnie Tapasanun  August 19, 2021

Online retail sales, more formally known as "E-Commerce sales," rose 3.3% q/q (9.1% y/y) in Q2'21 on a seasonally adjusted basis after a 7.8% gain in Q1'21 and a 0.9% drop in Q4'20, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Q2'21 increase in E-Commerce sales compares to a 5.2% q/q rise (28.2% y/y) in overall retail sales during the same period. This overall measure of retail sales excludes the food services and restaurants. E-Commerce sales account for 13.3% of total retail sales in Q2'21, compared to 13.6% in 2020, 10.7% in 2019 and 4.4% in 2010.

Details of the E-Commerce data by sector are not seasonally adjusted. Sales of nonstore retailers, which accounted for 56% of total E-Commerce sales in Q2'21, rebounded 8.6% q/q (17.0% y/y) in Q2 after a 11.9% decrease in Q1. Online sales of motor vehicles & parts jumped 18.9% (49.6% y/y), the fifth straight quarterly gain, after a 4.5% increase. Sales of furniture & home furnishings rose 3.1% (-2.4% y/y) following a 16.9% drop. Building materials & garden equipment sales recovered 31.6% (5.7% y/y), the largest q/q gain since Q2'20, after a 5.6% decline. Clothing accessory store sales rose 9.3% (4.7% y/y) vs. a 33.0% drop. General merchandise store sales rebounded 11.1% (-0.6% y/y) after weakening 35.6%. Sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument & book sales increased 1.8% (-16.1% y/y) following a 27.2% slide. Miscellaneous sales including gasoline stations rose 5.6% (27.0% y/y), the fourth q/q rise in five quarters, after a 2.5% decline. In contrast, food & beverage purchases fell 9.8% (-8.9% y/y), the third q/q fall in four quarters, after a 0.1% dip.

E-commerce sales are goods and services ordered 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 and sometimes sale & price are negotiated. Total sales estimates are adjusted for seasonal variation, but not for price changes. They 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.

Q2'21 Q1'21 Q4'20 Q2'21 Y/Y 2020 2019 2018
Total Retail Sales (%) 5.2 8.0 0.6 28.2 3.1 3.0 4.2
% of E-Commerce Sales (Q2'21)
Total E-Commerce Sales (SA) 100.0 3.3 7.8 -0.9 9.1 31.7 14.1 14.4
Total E-Commerce Sales (NSA) -- 7.6 -16.6 23.2 9.3 31.8 14.3 14.2
   Nonstore Retailers (NSA) 56.0 8.6 -11.9 18.1 17.0 23.1 13.6 --
   Motor Vehicles & Parts 8.3 18.9 4.5 2.4 49.6 14.9 12.4 --
   Furniture & Home Furnishings 2.1 3.1 -16.9 20.6 -2.4 50.0 11.9 --
   Building Materials & Garden Equipment 3.8 31.6 -5.6 1.5 5.7 64.4 16.9 --
   Clothing & Accessories 6.8 9.3 -33.0 47.1 4.7 26.4 9.6 --
   General Merchandise 9.4 11.1 -35.6 60.2 -0.6 52.4 21.5 --
   Food & Beverages 2.9 -9.8 -0.1 11.6 -8.9 141.1 57.7 --
   Sporting Goods, Hobby, Musical Instruments & Books 1.4 1.8 -27.2 27.2 -16.1 62.8 6.3 --
   Miscellaneous (Including Gas Stations) 1.7 5.6 -2.5 14.6 27.0 -10.8 3.4 --
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