Department of Commerce: E-commerce spending up

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U.S. retail e-commerce totaled $48.2 billion during the third quarter of 2011, an increase of 13.7% compared with the third quarter of 2010, according to Nov. 17 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Overall U.S. retail sales during the quarter totaled $1.1 trillion, an increase of 8.2% compared with the third quarter of 2010, according to the estimates.

“There was a little bit of relative softness in this quarter given the market volatility,” said Andrew Lipsman, senior director of industry analysis at comScore, a digital business analytics company. “As of now, there seems to be only minor pullback and Q4 is looking pretty strong.”

E-commerce sales in the third quarter of 2011 accounted for 4.6% of total sales, a slight increase over Q3 2010's 4.4% increase.

Lipsman said 4.6% is a soft number given that overall retail sales include food, gas and automotive purchases. “If you take out food, gas and auto from the calculation, the increase is in the 8% to 9% range now,” he said. 

The sentiment indicators comScore is seeing for the fourth quarter are relatively positive, he said.

“If we're looking at growth rates going back to 2005 through 2007, we were looking at growth rates in the 20% range,” he said. “Given the backdrop of the overall economic environment, the fact that we're in the teens is a good sign.”

The Census Bureau estimates are based on approximately 12,500 retail firms whose sales are weighted and benchmarked to represent the complete universe of more than 2 million retail firms, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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