3 minutes

Ecommerce accounted for about half of retail growth in the third quarter.

U.S. ecommerce sales in the third quarter of 2023 reached $271.7 billion, according to a Digital Commerce 360 analysis of U.S. Department of Commerce figures. That’s 7.8% growth over Q3 2022, according to Digital Commerce 360 data.

U.S. ecommerce sales in Q3 2023 accounted for 21.4% — or more than a fifth — of total retail sales.


Meanwhile, total retail sales in Q3 reached $1.267 trillion, according to Digital Commerce 360 analysis. That’s a 3.2% increase from Q2 2023.


US ecommerce sales growth outpaces total growth

Year over year, U.S. ecommerce grew an estimated 7.7% in the first nine months. Total retail sales increased 3.9% over the same period.

“Ecommerce has been more important for retail growth this year than any year since 2020,” said James Risley, research data manager and senior analyst at Digital Commerce 360. “While in-store retail bounced back after pandemic restrictions lifted, shoppers are still turning to ecommerce more as it provides convenience and utility beyond avoiding disease.”

And U.S. ecommerce sales growth outpaced total growth in Q3 2023. U.S. ecommerce represented 41.0% of total retail growth for the first nine months of 2023. For the third quarter, online sales in the U.S. accounted for nearly half (49.7%) of total retail growth.


Still, U.S. ecommerce growth remained mostly flat in Q3 compared with the previous three quarters.

“Growth is still slower than pre-pandemic times, showing that while ecommerce growth is faster than overall growth, during the rough economic times we’re in, ecommerce is struggling along with the rest of retail,” Risley said. 

Compared with Q2, offline (in-store) retail sales declined in Q3. Offline sales cracked $1 trillion in Q2, but they didn’t in Q3, reaching about $995.5 billion, according to Digital Commerce 360 analysis. Risley said Walmart Inc.’s return to competing with Amazon Prime Day this year might have helped boost some of the online spending in Q3.


Amazon is No. 1 in the Top 1000. The database is Digital Commerce 360’s ranking of the largest North American online retailers by their web sales. Walmart is No. 2 in the Top 1000.

How do we calculate ecommerce penetration?

Digital Commerce 360 studies non-seasonally adjusted Commerce Department data and excludes spending in segments that don’t typically sell online.

These segments include:

  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Automobile dealers
  • Gas stations and fuel dealers

U.S. ecommerce penetration reflects the share of dollars consumers could potentially spend online.

The Commerce Department defines ecommerce sales as the sales of goods and services where an order is placed by the buyer or price and terms of sales are negotiated over an internet, extranet, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) network, electronic mail, or other online system. The customer may or may not make the payment online. The Commerce Department publishes estimates it has adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes.

Percentage changes may not align exactly with dollar figures due to rounding.

Do you rank in our database?

Submit your data and we’ll see where you fit in our next ranking update.


Sign up

Stay on top of the latest developments in the ecommerce industry. Sign up for a complimentary subscription to Digital Commerce 360 Retail News. Follow us on LinkedInTwitter and Facebook. Be the first to know when Digital Commerce 360 publishes news content.