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US online retail (non-travel) spending continues to grow, reaching $41.9 billion during Q3 2012, representing a 15% increase from $36.3 billion in Q3 2011, according to new figures from comScore. This marks the 12th consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth and 8th consecutive quarter of double-digit growth rates. The 15% year-over-year growth rate matches Q2’s rate, and is the largest for any third quarter since Q3 2007”²s 23% rate. While retail e-commerce spending in Q3 this year was below Q2’s $43.2 billion, that quarter-to-quarter drop has been the case every year since 2007.

Given the positive trajectory for several quarters now, Q4 retail e-commerce spending should outstrip last year’s Q4 spend to set a new spending peak in dollar terms, due to the holiday period. Indeed, forecasts retail e-commerce sales to increase by 12% to $96 billion this holiday season, or 16.4% of total holiday sales. A recent forecast from eMarketer is even more bullish on growth, projecting a 16.8% year-over-year increase in holiday retail e-commerce sales, with online holiday sales accounting for close to one-quarter of retail e-commerce sales for the year.

No Looking Back for Digital Content, Consumer Electronics

The latest comScore data continues to show strong growth in certain key online product categories in Q3. In particular, digital content and subscriptions and consumer electronics each grew by at least 16% compared to a year earlier. These 2 categories were also top performers in Q1 and Q2.

Other categories seeing at least a 16% boost in spending in Q3 were event tickets, apparel and accessories, and computer software.

Other Findings:

  • 37% of US consumers say they have engaged in “showrooming” – which comScore defines as using a smartphone while in a retail store to check prices or purchase a product online. That’s up from 32% in Q1. More on consumers and showrooming this holiday season can be found here.
  • 48% of consumers surveyed by comScore rate the economy as “poor,” which actually counts as a significant 8% point improvement from Q2.

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