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Forecast growth in percentage of online retail / Ecommerce sales 2017 to 2023

Author's avatar By Dave Chaffey 09 Oct, 2020
Essential Essential topic

Ecommerce 2020: The latest data and forecasts for all things online retail growth

It's interesting to look back at the growth of online sales and think forward to the future of this industry. As demonstrated by these charts from Statistica, the overall percentage of Ecommerce retail sales have certainly grown in the last few months, accounting for 16% of sales in the US in Q2 2020.

ecommerce growth 2020 US

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Equally, we have watched the overall percentage of Ecommerce retail sales in the UK raising to nearly a third of all retail in the UK in May 2020 - it has since decreased slightly, but it will be interesting to follow this trend over this year, the holiday season, and into next year.

The pandemic and subsequent global recession have caused many marketers to go back to the drawing board. So this blog will start with a COVID-19 update. The information and links from 2019 below are still relevant for tracking the changing trends. But naturally, these sources have now changed their predictions for 2020 onwards. The following is taken from eMarketer's 2020 report:

"Before COVID-19, we had forecast that global retail would expand by 4.4%, to $26.460 trillion in 2020. For ecommerce, those figures had been 18.4% growth and $4.105 trillion in sales. However, we have decreased our retail forecast by over 10 percentage points and our ecommerce forecast by 2 percentage points. This reduced our overall outlook for retail ecommerce sales by $190.79 billion."

Worldwide Ecommerce by region 2020

The chart below shows eMarketer's most recent global Ecommerce forecast. Leading the way, the Asia-Pacific is forecast $2,448.33 billion of Ecommerce sales in 2020, as opposed to the Middle East & Africa predicted $41.56 billion.

Retail ecommerce worldwide

Ecommerce sector growth in 2020: Which sectors have the largest share of total sale?

As we can see in the chart which depicts the state of play for online retail sectors in the UK, non-store retailers have come out on top of the ecommerce growth spurt. These sellers have been geared up from the start for the socially-distanced retailing model now crucial to so many businesses. It's interesting to see that textile, clothing and footwear stores are enjoying nearly a third of all online purchases.

UK online retail sectors 2020

Pre-COVID19, research from May 2019, eMarketer

The latest ecommerce growth forecast from eMarketer suggests that globally ecommerce sales will increase to 16% of all sales in 2020. This is an increase of 19%.

This projection shows the growth in digital buyers. The declining percentage change shows that growth rates for ecommerce are declining, although they are still positive.

US E-commerce sales - November 2019 update

The US Government has been cataloguing the trend of percentage of ecommerce sales for many years. The overall percentage of sales is not as high as might be expected.

US E-commerce sales currently average out at 10.5 percent of total sales

Note that the U.S. Census data counts cooked food, auto sales/repair, and vehicle fuel as part of retail, which understates the U.S. online share of retail compared to European estimates which exclude these.

2019 update - Centre for Retail Research

The Online Retailing: Britain, Europe, US and Canada research report from the Centre for Retail Research shows that the retail online retail sector is the main driver of growth in European and North American retailing.

E-commerce growth rates in other countries

The Emarketer report also compares growth between the top 10 countries ranked by ecommerce sales, showing that China now surpasses the US and UK.

UK IMRG data

The IMRG-Cap Gemini Index is only available for members who include the largest UK E-commerce and multichannel brands. It's useful for seeing sector-specific trends. Their most recent update, for example, shows these levels of growth:

• UK online retail sales in October 2019 reported year-on-year growth of +6.3%

• Month-on-month performance reported +6.4%

• Excluding travel and ticketing retailers, the market growth was a healthy +9.2% year-on-year

• Home was the top performer with +13.6% YoY growth

• Menswear and Womenswear struggled during October with negative growth

Author's avatar

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. Dave is editor of the 100+ templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ digital marketing experts. Our resources are used by our Premium members in more than 100 countries to Plan, Manage and Optimize their digital marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here. Dave is a keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. My personal site,, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

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