US E-Commerce Sales Nearly $800 Billion in 2020

U.S. e-commerce grew 32% in 2020 to reach $790 billion, up from $598 billion the year before. According to the Department of Commerce, e-commerce represented 14% of total retail spending, a significant increase from 11.3% in 2019.

For the past ten years, e-commerce in the U.S. grew, on average, 15% year-over-year. In 2020, the market reached a total sales figure it would have otherwise gotten to in 2021. Thus, two years of e-commerce growth in one year.

U.S. E-Commerce Sales

Amazon was one of the big winners in the fourth quarter, a record quarter with nearly $250 billion in e-commerce spending. While during the first two quarters boosted by the pandemic - Q2 and Q3 - it grew at or below the overall U.S. e-commerce growth rate. In the fourth quarter, Amazon grew faster than the market (based on a naive comparison of its reported North America segment growth). Its fulfillment capacity allowed the company to be more confident with deliveries than its main rivals.

Amazon North America vs. US E-Commerce Growth

U.S. e-commerce reached its peak in the second quarter with a 16.1% share of retail. However, one part of e-commerce penetration growth was increased sales online, another - decreased overall retail spending (the denominator in the penetration calculation). By the end of the year, retail spending had recovered, and thus e-commerce as a percent of retail decreased.

The Department of Commerce’s retail figures also include sales of cars, car parts, bars, and restaurants. Excluding those, the e-commerce share of retail would be substantially higher at around 20% for 2020.

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

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Juozas "Joe" Kaziukėnas

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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