E-commerce is now a double-digit force in U.S. consumer spending, according to comScore. Online retail spending, which has steadily made double-digit gains since 2009, jumped 15 percent from a year ago to $186 billion last year, while online travel spending increased 9 percent to $103 billion.
Overall, e-commerce sales combined for a 14 percent spike in year-over-year growth, reaching $289 billion in 2012. Over the course of eight years, e-commerce grew from 5 to 10 percent of all U.S. consumer spending with mobile now also accounting for one in every 10 e-commerce dollars spent.
“With the exception of the great recession of 2009, you can see solid growth,” comScore Chairman and co-founder Gian Fulgoni says in a webinar highlighting the firm’s latest findings. “We reached for the first time in a quarter, e-commerce representing 10 percent of all U.S. discretionary spending.”
Online sales are also growing about seven times greater than offline retail, posting a 14 percent year-over-year increase. Online buyers spent an average of $293 in the all-important 2012 holiday quarter, up 8 percent from the year prior. Total online buyers also rose 6 percent to 194 million people, while the average number of transactions per buyer jumped 4 percent to 2.91 in the quarter.
Fulgoni also notes another threshold that was reached in the final quarter of 2012 - three quarters of the U.S. Internet population made at least one online purchase during the quarter.
Mobile phones and portable devices such as tablets represented the highest product growth areas during the quarter, jumping 40 percent and 46 percent year-over-year, respectively. Online sales of desktop computers fell 13 percent.
Amazon remains the dominant online retailer by staggering margins, clocking 115.2 million monthly visitors via fixed Internet, while its next closest competitors Apple and Walmart reported an average of 50 million and 49.6 million monthly visitors, respectively. While still much smaller in total numbers, flash sales sites like Fab.com and Zulily.com tracked phenomenal growth, tracking 329 percent and 72 percent year-over-year gains in average monthly visitors.
ComScore also took a look at the effects of “showrooming,” when consumers might visit a physical store and then decide to purchase the item online. While only 17 percent of consumers were aware of the term, 36 percent of those surveyed by the research firm reported that they do engage in the activity. A better price online was cited as the key reason for showrooming, while smartphone owners were significantly more likely to showroom than non-smartphone owners at a rate of 46 percent compared to 27 percent for the latter.
Although price is still king, 40 percent of those surveyed by comScore said they already planned to buy the item online but wanted to see the item in person before ordering.