E-commerce spending up 12% in Q1: comScore

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US e-commerce sales reached $38 billion in the first quarter, up 12% compared with Q1 2010, according to comScore. It was the sixth consecutive quarter of e-commerce growth and the second straight double-digit growth quarter in the US.

“We've seen this figure continue to climb the past few quarters,” said Andrew Lipsman, senior director of marketing and industry analysis at comScore. “This reflects an overall improvement in the economy, consumer sentiment and consumer expectations for the future. This also reflects the fact that e-commerce has become more relied upon because of its pricing power and convenience.”

The top 25 online retailers accounted for more than two-thirds (67.7%) of dollars spent online, the same percentage as Q1 2010. This share peaked at 70% in 2010, meaning that small- and mid-sized retailers are regaining lost market share.

“In poor economic times, larger retailers have an economic advantage,” said Lipsman. “They can continue to spend on marketing and advertising. Plus their name brand and product awareness benefits them.”

He added that small- and mid-size retailers now have available marketing spend and they are using it to “take back that market share.”

The 12% quarterly growth in national e-commerce sales was the result of a 7% increase in the number of online buyers and 9% growth in transactions per buyer, according to the report. Dollars per transaction, however, were down about 4% year-over-year.

Lipsman said online retailers shouldn't be concerned with a decrease in dollars per transaction because it's typically indicative of new online buyers easing into the practice.

“Sometimes we see the rate-per-person decline as the number of people in the segment increases,” he said. “You're getting new buyers and as they start off slow, they bring down the average. If you just looked at existing buyers and compared their behavior, you probably wouldn't see a decline.”

The top-performing product categories were video games, consoles and accessories; books and magazines; computers; consumer electronics; and computer software excluding PC games. Each of the aforementioned categories grew at least 13% year-over-year in Q1 2011, but Lipsman declined to reveal specific numbers for each category.

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