Two Years of E-Commerce Growth in One Year

US e-commerce reached market share levels it would have only gotten to in 2022. According to the Department of Commerce, e-commerce represented 13.4% of total retail spending in Q1 2021. Before the pandemic, it was expected to be 12.3%.

The year of growth from Q1 2020 to Q1 2021 was going to happen over two years instead. The pandemic pulled it forward by one year. A much smaller step change than severe lockdowns and store closures would have suggested.

Early in the pandemic, decreased overall retail spending resulted in a much greater e-commerce penetration figure. By now retail spending has recovered, and thus the figure is now more representative.

U.S. E-Commerce as a Percent of Total Sales

In 2021 and beyond, e-commerce penetration will not shrink and instead continue to grow from the current level. After reaching nearly $800 billion in sales in 2020, it will surpass $1 trillion as early as 2022 - a figure that wouldn’t have been achieved at least until 2024.

E-commerce was on a steady rise for over a decade. The pandemic brought a step change that pulled forward growth by one year, but it didn’t accelerate growth beyond that or otherwise fundamentally change e-commerce’s role in retail. It is back to a steady rise for the upcoming quarters.

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Juozas "Joe" Kaziuk─Śnas

Founder of Marketplace Pulse, Joe wears multiple hats in the management of Marketplace Pulse, including writing most of the articles. Based in New York City. Advisor to other startups and entrepreneurs. Occasional speaker at conferences.

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