Last Updated on
August 31, 2023

The Top Ecommerce Categories in the US

In this article we’ll share the latest data on the top ecommerce categories in the United States.

By the end, you’ll have a firmer knowledge of the consumer habits of online shoppers; knowledge you can use to grow your own ecommerce business.

Along with the top online shopping categories, we’ll show you which product categories are trending up or down, how the top categories differ in other countries and which are particularly popular online compared to physical retail.

What is the Top Online Shopping Category in the US?

According to data from eMarketer, the top online shopping category in the US is the Computer and consumer electronics category, which is responsible for $219.33 billion in retail ecommerce sales over the last year.

This makes up 21.2% of all retail ecommerce sales in the US.

All those iPhones, AirPods, Samsung Galaxies, Smart Watches and Smart TVs add up. With the price tag on all the latest electronics, it’s no surprise that this is the product category responsible for 1 in 5 dollars spent in the US ecommerce industry.

The Nine Top Online Shopping Categories in the US (By Revenue)

Let’s round out the full list of the top online shopping categories in the US.

  1. Computer and consumer electronics: $219.33 billion (21.2% of total sales in the US market)
  2. Apparel and accessories: $203.75 billion (19.7%)
  3. Furniture and home furnishings: $129.45 billion (12.5%)
  4. Health and personal care and beauty: $111.03 billion (10.7%)
  5. Auto and parts : $86.26 billion (8.3%)
  6. Food and beverage: $78.28 billion (7.6%)
  7. Toys and hobby: $74.03 billion (7.2%)
  8. Books/music/video: $54.02 billion (5.2%)
  9. Office equipment and supplies: $19.35 billion (1.9%)

All other product categories account for $58.32 billion in revenue (5.6% of the total retail ecommerce market).

E-Commerce Categories: Rising vs Falling

Which product categories are on the way up, and which are in decline?

Trick question - all of the top online shopping categories are increasing year over year. The US ecommerce market as a whole grew by 14.1% in 2022, which means there was plenty of growth to go around.

The fastest growing ecommerce category is Auto and parts, which grew 30.1% YoY in 2022.

Only sales in “other” categories declined by 4.5%. The other nine categories above all saw positive growth.

Some categories did grow more than others. And using the total market growth as a benchmark, we can pinpoint which categories are rising or falling relative to other top ecommerce categories.

Rising

The following categories are growing faster than the ecommerce market as a whole, meaning they’re increasing in market share, with more people choosing to shop online for products in these categories.

  • Auto and parts (30.10% growth vs 14.1% total ecommerce growth)
  • Food and beverage (20.70%)
  • Apparel and accessories (15.40%)
  • Health and personal care and beauty (15.10%)
  • Computer and consumer electronics (15.00%)

Falling

These categories are still growing, but at a slower rate, meaning their market share is decreasing.

  • Office equipment and supplies (14.00%)
  • Toys and hobby (12.00%)
  • Furniture and home furnishings (10.30%)
  • Books/music/video (8.40%)

Projections

Total ecommerce growth YoY for this year is projected to be 13.8% - slightly less than the year before.

This is broken down into the following numbers for each of the most popular categories:

  • Auto and parts : 22.70%
  • Food and beverage: 19.60%
  • Health and personal care and beauty: 14.70%
  • Apparel and accessories: 14.60%
  • Computer and consumer electronics: 14.10%
  • Office equipment and supplies: 13.60%
  • Toys and hobby: 11.40%
  • Books/music/video: 9.90%
  • Furniture and home furnishings: 9.30%
  • Other: 4.10%

Overall ecommerce growth is expected to slow to 12.1% by 2026. This is understandable, as ecommerce by now is already a fixture in our lives, leaving less room for growth every year.

Instead, expect mobile commerce to rise over the coming years as one of the hottest new trends in the retail industry. Each year, more products purchased online are purchased on mobile devices, as many consumers opt for the increased convenience of mobile (particularly shopping apps).

Get more insights with our breakdown of the latest mobile commerce statistics in this post.

Ecommerce vs Physical Retail Share for Top Product Categories

Let’s look at how today’s market is split between ecommerce and physical retail, and where the sales come for the top product categories.

The total retail market in the US is split largely in the favor of brick and mortar, with 83.2% market share vs ecommerce’s 16.8%.

With those numbers in mind, you’ll see that many of the top ecommerce categories are significantly above average in terms of ecommerce vs physical market share.

Categories with Above Average Ecommerce Penetration

These two product categories are particularly popular online, with more than 50% of product sales coming via online shopping:

  • Books/music/video (68.40% ecommerce vs 31.60% physical)
  • Computer and consumer electronics (56.30% ecommerce vs 43.70% physical)

The following five categories also have a relatively high popularity online. Though each category still has more sales from brick and mortar than online, the share of ecommerce revenue vs physical retail is higher than the overall online vs brick and mortar market share.

  • Toys and hobby (42.40% ecommerce vs 57.60% physical)
  • Office equipment and supplies (39.90% ecommerce vs 60.20% physical)
  • Apparel and accessories (37.00% ecommerce vs 63.00% physical)
  • Furniture and home furnishings (32.60% ecommerce vs 67.40% physical)
  • Health and personal care and beauty (17.20% ecommerce vs 82.80% physical)

Physical-Dominant Categories

On the flip side, these categories have a higher than average share of sales in physical retail, showing that relatively few shoppers have made the jump to buying online.

  • Food and beverage (6.40% ecommerce vs 93.60% physical)
  • Auto and parts (5.20% ecommerce vs 94.80% physical)
  • Other (3.60% ecommerce vs 96.40% physical)

Top Online Shopping Categories Around the World

Finally, let's compare the top ecommerce categories worldwide to those in the US.

The top online shopping categories around the world in terms of total revenue are:

  1. Fashion: $990 billion
  2. Electronics: $910 billion
  3. Toys, hobby and DIY: $780 billion
  4. Beauty, health, personal and household care: $400 billion
  5. Food: $350 billion

Data from Statista.

Fashion and electronics are among the top selling product categories both in the US and around the world. Health, personal care and beauty products are also in the top five for both segments.

Food and Toys/Hobbies are more dominant in worldwide ecommerce than they are in the US, while US shoppers have a higher relative spend on Furniture and Auto products.

Most Popular Online Shopping Categories

When we’re talking about the top ecommerce categories, “top” can mean a few different things.

We’ve mostly been talking about revenue. But another angle is to look at the most popular product categories - the kind of products that people buy most often.

According to data from Statista, the most popular category worldwide is Clothing, with 57% of internet users responding that they’ve bought a product online in this category in the last 12 months.

This is followed by Shoes, Consumer electronics, Books, Movies & Games, and Cosmetics & body care.

Here’s the full list of the most popular online shopping categories worldwide with their purchase reach (percentage of internet users who have made a purchase in this category in the last 12 months)

  • Clothing: 57% purchase reach
  • Shoes: 47%
  • Consumer electronics: 40%
  • Books, movies, music & games: 36%
  • Cosmetics & body care: 32%
  • Bags & accessories: 29%
  • Food & drinks: 28%
  • Household appliances: 27%
  • Furniture & household goods: 19%
  • Sports & outdoor: 18%
  • Toys & baby products: 18%
  • Stationary & hobby supplies: 17%
  • DIY, garden & pets: 13%

Clothing and Shoes are the two categories with the highest purchase reach in the US as well, with 44% and 34% reach respectively.

In Summary

The results are in; fashion and electronics are the two most dominant online shopping categories, both in the US and around the world. More than 40% of US ecommerce dollars go towards consumer electronics and apparel.

Electronics are particularly popular with online shoppers, with slightly over half of the money spent in this category spent online; much higher than the overall online shopping market share of 16.8%.

Both the top product categories are growing at rates in line with the overall growth of the US ecommerce market (13.8%). Auto and parts and Food and beverage are the fastest growing online shopping categories in the US, while Furniture and home furnishings and Books/music/video are those with the lowest growth (still positive, but below the overall market growth).

At MobiLoud, we’ve observed similar trends in our work with ecommerce brands, located in the US and around the world.

We help these brands turn their successful ecommerce websites into mobile apps for a minimal expense and time investment. This is perfect for any business wanting to capitalize on the growth in popularity of mobile commerce, as the likes of Rainbow Apparel and John Varvatos have done.

The John Varvatos app, built with MobiLoud

If you’re running an online store, you should definitely think about building your own app. You’ll be surprised at how easy and affordable it is to grow your business by entering the app stores, communicating with customers via push notifications and providing a contained, optimized mobile user experience.

Get a free, personalized demo to see how it works, or go here to view an interactive preview of your site as an app right now.

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