Last week the Census Bureau, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, released retail sales data for the third quarter of 2020. Total retail sales, adjusted for seasonal variation but not for price changes, were estimated to be $1.469 trillion, marking a 7.0 percent increase versus the same time period year-ago, signaling economic strength in the face of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
Third-quarter U.S. E-commerce sales amounted to $209.5 billion, marking a whopping 36.7 percent increase year over year. Consequently, E-commerce sales represented 14.3 percent of 2020 third-quarter total sales, compared to 11.1 percent during the third quarter of 2019. That year-over-year change – from an 11.1 share of total sales to a 14.3 share – translates to 28 percent expansion in E-commerce’s slice of the retail sector.
Interestingly, the 14.3 last-quarter share for E-commerce is not the channel’s highwater mark. That record – a 16.1 share of total sales – was achieved in the second quarter of this year, when the Covid-19 outbreak closed many retail stores across the country, forcing millions of households to shift quickly and dramatically to online shopping. So, while the long-term outlook trend for E-commerce remains quite strong, the channel’s sales actually declined 1 percent in this year’s third quarter, compared to second quarter.
While the retail sector, which includes consumer-facing businesses, has regained strength entering the critical holiday season, not all segments of Retail have recovered. An October-vs.-January comparison of retail data shows strong growth in sales of motor vehicles and parts and building materials, and at grocery and convenience stores; almost no change in sales of health and personal care products and at general merchandise stores; a slight decline in clothing store sales; and a sizeable drop in sales at gas stations.
This E-commerce news update is presented by the Butcher Block Co., which sells kitchen countertops, furniture and accessories exclusively online. The company specializes in custom wood countertops in both butcher block and plank style, and offers the full line of John Boos & Co. butcher block and stainless-steel products for home and commercial kitchens alike.
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