According to an Internet Retailer article on newly released U.S. Commerce Department figures for the second quarter, e-commerce sales are up 17.5% from a year ago and are at the highest level ever—4.6% of all retail sales:
U.S. e-commerce sales totaled $47.51 billion during the second quarter, up 17.5% from $40.42 billion a year ago, according to seasonally adjusted estimates released today by the U.S. Commerce Department.
E-commerce accounted for approximately 4.6% of total retail sales during the second quarter, its highest level on record, the Commerce Department says. Total adjusted retail sales during the second quarter reached $1.04 trillion, according to today’s report. E-commerce accounted for 4.5% of total retail sales during the first quarter of 2011, and 4.2% of total retail sales during the second quarter of 2010, the Commerce Department says.
Interestingly, Internet Retailer found a discrepancy in the Commerce Department report:
When excluding sales in categories not commonly bought online—automobiles, fuel, grocery and restaurant meals—Internet Retailer calculates that e-commerce accounted for 8.4% of total retail sales during the quarter, up from 7.3% a year ago. This calculation is based on Q2 retail sales totals the Commerce Department released last week; that report put total adjusted retail sales for Q2 at $1.16 trillion, higher than the retail total released today. The Commerce Department did not immediately respond to a request for explanation about the difference.
A comparison between the change in online sales and change in bricks-and-mortar sales is particularly stark at Saks:
“We are approaching the fall season a bit more cautiously and will continue to be very strategic with our expense, capital and inventory spending,” says Stephen Sadove, CEO of Saks Inc., where online sales were up 50% during the second quarter from a year ago, and bricks-and-mortar comparable store sales were up 15.5%. (emphasis added)
Those are incredible figures: Q2 online sales at Saks were up 50% from a year ago, while bricks-and-mortar store sales were up only 15.5%.
Those statistics make it easy to understand why so many Main Street retailers are concerned about online sales. While Saks has an online store, the local bike store probably doesn’t, and it’s likely to lose many of its sales to online retailers.
Online retailers should be required to play by the same rules as Main Street retailers. When exempting online retailers from collecting sales tax gives them a perceived 10% price advantage, how can any Main Street retailer compete?