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US retail e-commerce spending neared $34 billion in Q1 2010, according to data from comScore.

Retail E-commerce Spending Rises 10% Year-over-year
comScore estimates indicate that US retail e-commerce spending from home, work and university locations totaled $33.98 billion in Q1 2010. This represents a 10% increase from $31.03 billion in Q1 2009 and a 13% decrease from $39.05 billion in Q4 2009. The strong year-over-year acceleration marks the first time annual growth rates have hit double digits since retail e-commerce sales rose 13% in Q2 2008.

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Upper Income Households Spur Growth
Although Q1 2010 returned the US retail e-commerce market to double-digit growth, comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said there is no guarantee this growth will continue.

“While these spending gains provide reason for optimism, we should note that upper-income households are currently shouldering much of the growth,” said Fulgoni. “Should the economy falter in the second half of the year and upper-income consumers return to a savings mode, we could still see growth decelerate. But for the time being, this momentum is encouraging.”

Other Q1 Highlights

  • Growth in the first quarter was predominantly driven by upper-income consumers, with spending among the $100,000-plus household income segment up 14%.
  • Pure play (online-only) retailers continued to gain e-commerce spending market share from multichannel retailers.
  • Larger online retailers continued to generate higher growth rates than smaller retailers, but the smaller retailers are finally beginning to see positive growth once again.

Census Bureau Produces Different Q1 E-commerce Results
Adjusted US e-commerce sales totaled $38.7 billion in Q1 2010, a 1.5% increase from $38.1 billion in Q4 2009, according to estimates (using different metrics) from the US Census Bureau. However, removing seasonal adjustments, Q1 2010 e-commerce sales were $36.6 billion, an 18.9% decrease from $42 billion in Q4 2009. On a year-over year unadjusted basis, Q1 2010 e-commerce sales increased 14% from Q1 2009 and accounted for 4.1% of total sales of $897 billion in Q1 2009.

About the Data: Retail e-commerce growth rates exclude the travel, auction, auto and large corporate purchase segments.

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