US online retail spending reached a record $43.4 billion during Q4 2010, according to new data from comScore. This figure is up 11% from $39 billion in Q4 2009 and 35% from $32.1 billion in Q3 2010.
In addition, this growth rate represented the fifth consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth and second quarter of double-digit growth rates in the past year. In Q1 2010, US e-commerce spending totaled almost $34 billion, a 10% jump from $31 billion in Q1 2009.
Looking back a little further, retail e-commerce spending grew 3% year-over-year in Q4 2009, then increased 10% in Q1 2010 and 9% in the second and third quarters of this year. Prior to Q4 2009, retail e-commerce spending went through a quarter of negative growth, flat growth, and two more consecutive quarters of negative growth.
E-commerce Growth Not Yet at Pre-recession Levels
While the past five quarters represent a marked improvement from the four quarters preceding them, retail e-commerce growth rates are still significantly below those reported during 2007, which ranged from 17-23%. They are more in line with the respective 11% and 13% growth rates reported during the first two quarters of 2008 (the current recession is generally considered to have started in December 2007).
comScore predicts continued double-digit year-over-year growth in US retail e-commerce spending for the upcoming quarters of 2011.
Computer Categories among Top Performers
The top-performing online product categories were computer software (excluding PC games), consumer electronics, books & magazines (excluding digital downloads), computers/peripherals/PDAs, and toys & hobbies. Each of the aforementioned categories grew at least 15% in Q4 2010 compared to a year ago.
Top 25 Online Retailers Represent Almost 70% of Spend
The top 25 online retailers accounted for 68.4% of dollars spent online, up almost 9% from 62.8% a year ago. However, this percentage represented a decline from Q3 2010, during which the top 25 retailers accounted for 69.9% of dollars, which comScore says is an indication that small and mid-sized retailers are also rebounding from the recession.
More Web Users Conduct Transactions
Eighty-four percent of US internet users conducted an online transaction in Q4 2010, up close to 8% from 78% last year. comScore analysis indicates the average buyer spent about the same amount online during the most recent quarter as they did last year.
Online Holiday Spending Sets Record
US retail e-commerce spending for the entire November – December 2010 holiday season reached a record $32.6 billion, marking a 12% increase from $29 billion in 2009 and an all-time record for the season, according to other recent data from comScore. This 12% increase for the season, slightly outpaced comScore’s forecast of 11% growth.