e-commerce bounces back – the Internet recession is over

E-commerce is back up to double digit year-on-year increases for the first time in  six quarters, and while this is not strictly a mobile story, it will undoubtedly have an influence on the mobile sector.

comScore’s Q1 2010 US retail e-commerce sales estimates, showed that online retail spending neared (£23.5 billion) $34 billion for the quarter, up 10% versus year ago.

Retail E-Commerce (Non-Travel) Growth Rates
Excludes Auctions, Autos and Large Corporate Purchases
Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
Source: comScore, Inc.
Quarter E-Commerce Spending ($ Millions) Y/Y Percent Change
Q1 2007 $27,970 17%
Q2 2007 $27,176 23%
Q3 2007 $28,441 23%
Q4 2007 $39,132 19%
Q1 2008 $31,178 11%
Q2 2008 $30,581 13%
Q3 2008 $30,274 6%
Q4 2008 $38,071 -3%
Q1 2009 $31,031 0%
Q2 2009 $30,169 -1%
Q3 2009 $29,552 -2%
Q4 2009 $39,045 3%
Q1 2010 $33,984 10%

“The first quarter returned the U.S. retail e-commerce market to healthy double-digit growth rates,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “While these spending gains provide reason for optimism, we should note that upper-income households are currently shouldering much of the growth. Should the economy falter in the second half of the year and upper-income consumers return to a savings mode, we could still see growth decelerate. But for the time being, this momentum is encouraging.”

Other highlights from Q1 include:

  • Growth in the first quarter was predominantly driven by upper-income consumers, with spending among the £69,000+ ($100,000+) household income segment up 14%.
  • Pureplay (online-only) retailers continued to gain e-commerce spending market share from multichannel retailers.
  • Larger online retailers continued to generate higher growth rates than smaller retailers, but the smaller retailers are finally beginning to see positive growth once again.

As Fulgoni points out the big if in the figures is if the rest of the economy starts to see the uplift trickling down to them then next quarter will see yet another double-digit increase, but if it remains on the shoulders of the upper-income households then it will remain at it’s current level and we’ll not see the 20+% growth of the past. However there’s also a much bigger “if”, and that is, the growth will also only continue to grow at double digit rates as long as there’s anything more that can be sold online?

Internet sales continue to take a larger and larger bites out of the high-street and bricks and mortar sellers, but inevitable there will be a time when the internet market has to stop growing, it’s just a question of when, will it be six months, or will it be six years away?