US eCommerce 2013-2017: Still On Fire (And A Jobs Engine To Boot!)

We have just finalized our projections for US eCommerce for 2013 and not surprisingly, the numbers are strong — excluding auctions, we expect that figure to be $262B, 13% higher than the total in 2012. A few highlights of note:

  • Three categories capture over one-third of that total. Yes, only three! Apparel and accessories alone are a $40B-plus sector (which probably explains the heavy investment of players like Amazon in the space), followed by consumer electronics and computer hardware. 
  • Overall web penetration is 8%. That may not seem very remarkable, but that figure is deceptive because it’s weighed down by the grocery/food and beverage category, which is one of the largest overall but least penetrated online. In fact, if we exclude grocery from the mix, overall eCommerce penetration in the US jumps to 11% of overall retail. 
  • eCommerce is a jobs creator in the retail sector. For the first time, we have estimated the total employment in the US that results from the online retail sector. Our estimate is that over 400,000 individuals are employed in some web retailing function, of which more than half are salaried professionals (i.e., all non-fulfillment and call center employees). Furthermore, many of these salaried positions have promising long-term career growth trajectories. Given that there are probably about 750,000 such salaried jobs overall in retail (my estimate, approximately 10% of the 7.3M people employed in retail overall), the fact that the eCommerce sector has nearly 200,000 of them is a remarkable testament to the employment impact of this sector.

For more details on the totals and our projections through 2017, see our full forecast report. You'll also find that our European numbers are equally promising. My colleague Martin Gill released his forecast on the numbers across the pond at the same time. 

Comments

I'm interested in how you

I'm interested in how you came to your numbers - $231B, good for 8% of retail sales, implies a far smaller number for total retail than the US Census Bureau has released. How is your look different than theirs? (Interesting numbers regardless!)