According to an article on digitalcommerce360.com, consumers spent $861.12 billion online with U.S. merchants in 2020, up an incredible 44.0 percent year-over-year, according to estimates. That’s the highest annual U.S. ecommerce growth in at least two decades. It’s also nearly triple the 15.1 percent jump in 2019.
Online’s share of total retail sales has steadily been on the rise—with ecommerce penetration hitting 21.3 percent in 2020, Digital Commerce 360 estimates. That’s up from 15.8 percent in 2019 and 14.3 percent in 2018. The more than five-percentage point gain in ecommerce penetration is by far the biggest year-over-year jump for U.S. retail sales ever recorded. No other year has even reached a two percentage-point gain in digital penetration.
COVID-19-related boosts in online shopping resulted in an additional $174.87 billion in ecommerce revenue in 2020, Digital Commerce 360 estimates. If it weren’t for the bump in online sales from the pandemic, the $861.12 billion in ecommerce sales wouldn’t have been reached until 2022.
Digital Commerce 360 updated the ecommerce sales estimate for 2020 in January 2021.
Total retail sales increased 6.9% to $4.04 trillion from $3.78 trillion the year before, according to Digital Commerce 360’s analysis of the latest U.S. Department of Commerce figures. This is the highest growth since 1999. Digital Commerce 360 studies non-seasonally adjusted Commerce Department data and excludes sales of items not normally purchased online, such as spending at restaurants, gas stations and auto dealers.
The record-breaking jump in total retail sales may come as a surprise considering the coronavirus pandemic’s negative impact on in-store shopping. However, all of the growth in retail came from ecommerce. Online sales accounted for 101 percent of all gains in retail in 2020. This means sales through all other channels—stores, catalogs and call centers—declined. This is the first time in history that ecommerce sales accounted for all retail sales gains. The previous high was in 2008, when ecommerce accounted for 63.8 percent of all retail sales growth.
Amazon maintains its spot as the No. 1 online retailer in North America by a large margin. The online retailer’s 2020 revenue will cross $296 billion, up 38.6 percent from 2019, Digital Commerce 360 estimates. This means sales on Amazon alone represented nearly a third—31.4 percent—of all U.S. ecommerce sales growth in 2020. That’s certainly a significant share of online sales growth, and one we’re familiar with when it comes to the ecommerce giant, but there’s more to the story. The 31.4% is down from Amazon’s 43.8% share in 2019. This is likely a sign of the gains made by other big competitors in 2020, including Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Kroger.