Milestone: 10% of Global Retail Sales to Come From E-commerce This Year

The retail e-commerce market is expected to generate total global sales of $2.29 trillion this year, slightly more than 10% of total global retail sales projected to reach $22.737 trillion. That would be the first time sales of products and services ordered over the internet reaches that milestone. The projection was reported this week by retail research firm eMarketer.

More than 1.66 billion internet users ages 14 and older will purchase at least one item through any digital channel, a year-over-year increase of 9.4%. The total represents just over 60% of global internet users and nearly 27% of the total world population.

2017 is also projected to be the first year that year-over-year growth in internet sales falls below 10%. By 2021, eMarketer projects year-over-year growth will be just 4.5%, even though the number of purchasers will total 2.14 billion, or more than 65% of internet users.

More than half of this year’s buyers will come from the Asia-Pacific region, while roughly one-quarter will come from the United States and Western Europe. The current combined U.S. and Western European population is nearly 720 million, compared with a total population of more than 4 billion in Asia-Pacific.

That leaves a lot more room for growth in Asia-Pacific and eMarketer expects the region’s e-commerce buyers to increase at double-digit rates through 2019, by far the fastest growing region in the world. About 29% of Asia-Pacific residents will buy over the internet this year.

By contrast, more than half of Americans and Europeans already purchase items over the internet.

For its projections, eMarketer includes sales from e-commerce retailers and transactions that occur over consumer-to-consumer platforms such as eBay and other auction sites, and sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers and by gas stations. Travel, event ticket and restaurant sales are excluded from the firm’s forecast of retail and retail ecommerce.