Ecommerce is booming, but that’s nothing new. Global ecommerce sales add up to nearly $5.8 trillion, according to eMarketer. The ability to shop and buy pretty much anything online has been a fixture in our lives for a while now. In this article we’ll put that into context and share what percentage of retail sales are online sales.
We’ll show the latest data for both the US and global markets, then break down how prevalent online shopping is in different countries and for different product categories.
What Percentage of Retail Sales Are Online?
Worldwide, ecommerce sales make up 19.5% of the $29.7 trillion retail industry.
This number is slightly lower in the in US, where the ecommerce share of total retail sales is 16.4%.
The market share of ecommerce has increased both worldwide and in the US since 2022, with the previous year’s figures standing at 18.9% worldwide and 15% in the US.
Projected Growth of Ecommerce Market Share
Experts project that ecommerce will continue to grow and steadily take over more of the overall retail market in the coming years.
Worldwide, the ecommerce share of retail sales is expected to reach 23% by 2027. Here are the year-by-year projections until then:
- 2023: 19.5%
- 2024: 20.3%
- 2025: 21.2%
- 2026: 22.2%
Projections for the US ecommerce market share stand at:
- 2023: 16.4%
- 2024: 17.8%
- 2025: 19.4%
- 2026: 21.2%
While both markets are still growing, their growth has leveled off somewhat compared to the latter half of the 2010s.
Ecommerce Sales Growth vs Total Retail Sales Growth
To get a better understanding of how ecommerce has been taking a bigger and bigger market share over roughly the last decade, let’s see the year-by-year growth of both ecommerce and the overall retail industry.
Aside from the aberration of 2020 due to the pandemic, retail has been steadily growing in the single digits, slightly declining in growth most years.
Prior to 2020, however, the ecommerce market was growing between 20-30% each year. Post-pandemic, this has leveled off into the high single digits, though ecommerce continues to grow at more than 2x the rate of retail as a whole.
Ecommerce Penetration by Country
According to eMarketer’s Global Retail Ecommerce Forecast, China is the country with by far the highest ecommerce market share, at 47%, nearly half of all retail sales in the country.
Two other Asian markets come in the top 4, at which point the averages drop off steeply.
The top ten countries for ecommerce penetration are as follows:
- China: 47.00%
- Indonesia: 31.90%
- UK: 30.60%
- South Korea: 30.00%
- US: 15.80%
- Mexico: 14.20%
- Singapore: 14.00%
- Japan: 13.70%
- Russia: 13.20%
- Canada: 11.70%
China’s ecommerce market is the largest in the world, believed to be worth just over $3 trillion in 2023, nearly three times that of the US, the world’s second largest ecommerce market.
Ecommerce Penetration by Category
Finally let’s look at the share of ecommerce sales for a number of popular product categories.
Insights from Cowen show us the latest ecommerce penetration by product category in the US market.
Media (not including video games) is number one, with a huge 78% of sales in this category coming online.
Toys/Hobby Goods/Games is second at 59%, while Office Equipment & Supplies and Electronics both have 54% ecommerce penetration.
On the lower end, Food & Beverage, Auto and Garden Equipment/Supplies/Building Materials are all below the US average ecommerce share of retail sales, while all other categories also have a very low percentage of ecommerce sales.
Trends to Watch
Though the initial explosion is over, ecommerce is still growing, and taking more of the overall retail market little by little.
Projections say the worldwide ecommerce share of retail sales will grow from 19.5% to 22.2% from 2023 to 2026, and from 16.4% to 21.2% in the US.
We expect this trend to be steady and unspectacular. There are a couple of more interesting trends to keep an eye on.
One is the growth of ecommerce in developing markets. Ecommerce is growing faster in these areas of the world than any other, and at a much faster rate than retail overall.
Southeast Asia leads the way, with ecommerce rising 18.6% in 2023 vs 7% for retail overall. The Middle East and Africa is close behind, with 16% ecommerce growth vs 6% overall.
The Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe regions are also seeing growth of >10% in ecommerce sales, with the latter experiencing almost zero growth at all in overall retail sales.
The second is the growth of mobile commerce. As e-commerce once exploded as a subset of the retail industry, m-commerce is doing the same as a subset of e-commerce.
More people each year are choosing to shop online from their mobile phones, with retail m-commerce sales in the US currently sitting at $431 billion per year, and projected to reach $710 billion by 2025.
That puts mobile commerce’s market share at 38% that of the total e-commerce market in the US. This is projected to increase to 48% within just a couple of years.
Watch for this number to cross 50% before long, as more and more opt for the ultimate convenience of shopping on mobile.