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Online Retail Sales Continue to Struggle for Growth, Reports comScore and Internet Retailer

by MelissaM on August 10, 2009

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In Q2 a year ago, online sales were up 13% compared to the year before.

Today comScore, Inc. released its Q2 2009 retail e-commerce sales estimates, which showed that U.S. online retail spending totaled $30.2 billion, down 1 percent versus year ago. Q2 2009 represents only the second quarter on record where e-commerce spending has been lower than the same quarter the previous year.

View the full press release >>

Despite Q2 2009 total retail sales being down, online sales continue to fare well. According to preliminary second-quarter figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce and calculated by Internet Retailer, Q2 sales excluding autos, auto parts and restaurant sales were down 5.8% compared to a year ago. A portion of that decline is attributable to the slide in gasoline prices in the past year, although gas prices have risen from their low at the beginning of this year. Thus total retail sales excluding autos and auto parts, restaurants and gasoline station sales were down 3.7%.1

“The marginally negative growth in Q2, on the heels of flat growth in Q1, signals that online retail spending has yet to turn the corner after a disappointing end to last year,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “Unfortunately, it appears that the reality of nearly 10-percent unemployment and rising gas prices, coupled with an increased savings rate, continues to hold down consumers’ discretionary spending and it may still take some time to dig our way out of this recession.”

The fastest growing category in Q2 2009 versus year ago was Toys & Hobbies (up 21%), followed by Books & Magazines (up 17%), and Video Games, Consoles & Accessories (up 15%).

References: 1 Internet Retailer (08/10/09) www.internetretailer.com

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