Retail Sales on the Rise; E-Commerce, Mobile Will Enjoy Surge


WASHINGTON – The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts overall retail sales will rise between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent in 2018, with other researchers saying both e-commerce and mobile seeing substantial jumps. 

Retail sales grew 3.9 percent in 2017 to $3.53 trillion, says the U.S. Census Bureau, surpassing the NRF’s forecast for growth of 3.2 percent to 3.8 percent.

Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO, says consumers are “clearly feeling positive about their financial health,” and that despite headlines to the contrary, the retail industry is “strong, growing and meeting consumer demand with … the shopping experience they want to have, online or in store … there is every reason to believe that retail sales will be robust throughout the year.”

And NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz says the “underpinnings of the economy” are good and consumer spending “is at the center of our outlook.” He adds that the “push and pull of forces both external and internal to the U.S. economy will continue to provide challenges, but on balance we expect a good year.” 

A report by eMarketer says U.S. e-commerce sales will increase nearly 16 percent in 2018, reaching $526.1 billion and representing 10 percent of total retail sales. eMarketer is also bullish on mobile commerce, predicting it will continue to surge, reaching $208.3 billion –32 percent higher than last year. M-commerce will make up 39.6 percent of e-commerce sales. It will represent nearly half (49.2 percent) of total e-commerce sales by 2020.

Most m-commerce this year (71.5 percent) will come from smartphones, which will continue to capture a growing share in the U.S, while tablets’ portion will continue to decline.

Other findings from eMarketer include:

  • E-commerce will represent 12.4 percent of U.S. retail sales in 2020.
  • This year, there will be 190.3 million digital buyers in the U.S. (69.9 percent of the population), up 3.2 percent compared to last year.
  • The largest share of digital buyers (20.5 percent) is between 25 and 34, followed by 35-44-year-olds and 45-54-year-olds.
  • There will be 155.5 million mobile buyers, up 5.6 percent compared to 2017. And 64.7 percent of those mobile buyers will use a smartphone to make the purchase.

A report from market researcher Packaged Facts says American adult consumers that reported mobile internet activity in the past 30 days reached 52 percent, up roughly 50 percent in just four years. The report found that the fastest-growing category was purchase-related mobile activity, which was up an average of 28 percent annually. This suggests that mobile access is translating quickly to mobile commerce.

In 2017, more than a third (39 percent) of online purchasers reported making a mobile purchase, up from less than 20 percent of online purchasers in 2013. Similarly, banking and gathering information for shopping is climbing.