Forecast growth in percentage of online retail / Ecommerce sales [#DigitalInsights]

The potential for online retail growth on desktop and mobile devices

It's interesting to look back at the growth of online sales and think forward to how much further they can grow at the expense of traditional channels. Overall percentage of Ecommerce retail sales are perhaps, surprisingly small at around 9% of sales in the US and 12% in the UK, but with sustained growth.  The data for Europe suggests growth rates of 10 to 20%, so for businesses forecasting their future growth rates, the growth target should match or exceed this.

November 2016 update - new worldwide sales forecasts from eMarketer

This summary of projected sales from eMarketer shows that retail ecommerce sales will increase to $4.058 trillion in 2020, making up 14.6% of total retail spending.

Retail E-commerce sales worldwide forecast

US E-commerce sales - November 2016 update

The US Government has been cataloguing the trend of percentage of ecommerce sales since the first edition of my book was published and you see there has been steady growth since. Although the overall percentage of sales is not as high as might be expected.

US E-commerce sales currently average out at 8.6 percent of total sales

September 2015 update - new UK Ecommerce predictions from Emarketer

These charts from eMarketer give a great visual summary of UK retail Ecommerce sales growth predictions. Although growth rates are declining, they will remain around 10% for next two years with total online retail sales reaching 19.3% by 2019 according to the prediction.


uk ecommerce retail sales predictions 2014 to 2019

Another chart shows the need to focus on improving mobile ecommerce experiences. The report splits out mobile commerce sales which are already responsible for one third of online Ecommerce sales. The higher growth rates for mobile commerce are striking - currently around 38%.

mcommerce sales predictions 2014 2019

Remember that, as our compilation of desktop vs smartphone conversion rates shows, conversion rates are significantly lower on smartphones, so the mobile ecommerce experience should also signpost customer journeys that involve purchase via other online and offline channels. Even by 2019 the majority of retail sales will remain offline - the high street won't disappear, just yet fortunately!

UK Ecommerce sales growth

In the UK, similar historical government data isn't available, but the IMRG has catalogued the growth in E-retail sales for an even longer period with the chart below showing the importance of the Christmas period well. The government does report Ecommerce sales in its monthly retail sales reports which shows a higher figure than the US with...

UK online percentage of retail sales of 10.4% of total retail sales

Ecommerce sales percent

E-commerce sales growth in Europe

Previous estimates by Forrester are no longer updated, but a good alternative source is the E-commerceWiki (free registration) which is an initiative of the Ecommerce Foundation, a non-profit organization, initiated by worldwide national E-commerce associations.

This shows these growth rates in their most recent report with mature countries in the range 10 to 15% but 15% + in less mature countries.

European Online Sales Growth



Share your thoughts

  • Hi, Dave. To be honest I am little surprised by these numbers especially for the UK. 19.3% of total retail sales is to say at least disappointing. I expected to see numbers in the range of 30 to 35% of sales. But I still reckon ecommerce is the future, though.

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