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Reasons to be Prepared for the Holidays Almost 15 Percent Year-Over-Year

E- Commerce Sales Means 2017 Biggest Sales Ever

The U.S. Census Bureau released its latest report, showing retail e-commerce sales reached an estimated $105.7 billion in Q1 2017, a 4.1 percent increase over the previous quarter and 14.7 percent year-over-year increase compared to Q1 2016.

The Census Bureau said the $105.7 billion estimate is adjusted for seasonal variation, but not price changes. According to the report, e-commerce sales made up 8.5 percent of the total $1.25 billion in retail sales generated in Q1 2017.

E-commerce sales are sales of goods and services where an order is placed by the buyer or price and terms of sale are negotiated over an Internet, extranet, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) network, electronic mail, or other online system. Payment may or may not be made online.

Estimated Quarterly U.S. Retail E-commerce Sales

The US Census Bureau plans on releasing its Q2 2017 report on August 17.

Retail e-commerce sales are estimated from the same sample used for the Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS) to estimate preliminary and final U.S. retail sales. Advanced U.S. retail sales are estimated from a subsample of the MRTS sample that is not of adequate size to measure changes in retail e-commerce sales. A stratified simple random sampling method is used to select approximately 10,000 retail firms excluding food services whose sales are then weighted and benchmarked to represent the complete universe of over two million retail firms. The MRTS sample is probability based and represents all employer firms engaged in retail activities as defined by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Coverage includes all retailers whether they are engaged in e-commerce or not.

Online travel services, financial brokers and dealers, and ticket sales agencies are not classified as retail and are not included in either the total retail or retail e-commerce sales estimates. Non-employers are represented in the estimates through benchmarking to prior annual survey estimates that include non-employer sales based on administrative records. E-commerce sales are included in the total monthly sales estimates.

The MRTS sample is updated on an ongoing basis to account for new retail employer businesses (including those selling via the Internet), business deaths, and other changes to the retail business universe. Firms are asked each month to report e-commerce sales separately. For each month of the quarter, data for nonresponding sampling units are imputed from responding sampling units falling within the same kind of business and sales size category or based on historical performance of that company. Responding firms account for approximately 72 percent of the e-commerce sales estimate and about 71 percent of the estimate of U.S. retail sales for any quarter.

With less than six months to the holiday shopping season this growth trajectory for U.S. retail e-commerce sales emphasizes the importance of technological preparedness. 

The National Retail Federation shows the reason the Winter Holidays are so important as a percentage to gross annual sales.