E-commerce Spending Rising as Holiday Shopping Gets Underway

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Desktop-based online e-commerce spending rose 13% year-over-year in the third quarter to $47.5 billion. Mobile spending, called M-commerce in the trade, rose 26% year-over-year to $5.8 billion. This is the 16th consecutive year for growth in e-commerce and the 12th consecutive year of double-digit increases.

The data was released Friday by research firm comScore Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR) and excludes sales of cars, large corporate purchases, travel, and auction sales.

While e-commerce sales continue to increase, the rate of growth appears to be slowing slightly. Since the first quarter of 2012, when spending growth posted an all-time high of 17%, the increases have been trending downward, from 15% in the 2012 second quarter to 13% in the first quarter of this year before popping to a growth rate of 16% in the second quarter and then another quarter of 13% growth.

comScore’s chairman said:

Other macroeconomic indicators also suggested relative softness in discretionary spending, which offers some cause for concern as we head into the holiday season. Although there was evidence of slightly diminished consumer confidence in Q3, a more optimistic take is that increased outlays on large purchases such as new homes and automobiles may have temporarily squeezed other discretionary consumer spending. That said, the trend could still spell a challenging holiday season for retailers this year … Nonetheless, we are confident that the growth rate in online spending will once again far exceed that in bricks and mortar stores, reflecting the ongoing channel shift to e-commerce.

Other notable items:

  • E-commerce accounted for 9.4% of consumer discretionary spending, the highest third quarter on record
  • Smartphone purchases accounted for 62% of M-commerce sales compared with 38% for tablets
  • Digital content and subscriptions, apparel and accessories, consumer packaged goods, consumer electronics, and jewelry & watches all posted year-over-year growth of at least 14% and were the top performing categories in the comScore study