E-Commerce Sales Rise 1.9% in Quarter

Web revenues expected to top $50 billion in fourth quarter.

Clicks continued to gain on bricks in the third quarter as additional sales migrated online.

This story first appeared in the November 21, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Seasonally adjusted third-quarter e-commerce sales in the U.S. increased 1.9 percent versus the second quarter and shot up 13.7 percent to $48.2 billion from a year earlier, according to a Commerce Department report. The Web accounted for 4.6 percent of all retail sales, up from 4.4 percent a year earlier.

Erik Johnson, U.S. economist at forecasting firm IHS Global Insight, said e-commerce sales would post a year-over-year increase of more than 12 percent in the fourth quarter, pushing the top-line total to more than $50 billion for the first time.

But Johnson noted things do not look good for shoppers overall with confidence low, wage growth “anemic” and food prices rising.

“It is mildly encouraging that consumers are still spending in the face of so many headwinds, but as they dip further into their savings, this trend will be unsustainable,” he said. “Many large retailers are already discounting heavily in an effort to attract frugal consumers while they still have money left to spend.”