US e-commerce continued to growth through the third quarter: comScore

Americans continued to buy more online during the September quarter despite the economic uncertainty and high unemployment rate, latest data from digital tracking agency comScore suggested.

Total spending by American consumers online was $36.3 billion, up a healthy 13% compared to the same quarter of 2010.

The growth, however, owed more to a higher acceptance of the Internet as a legitimate way to shop than to a higher per-capita spend. In other words, while the total expenditure on e-commerce grew 13% year on year, the number of people who used the Internet to buy something went up by 22%.

In all, 74% of the Internet users in the US made at least one online purchase during the quarter.

The worst days of e-commerce for the US market was, unsurprisingly, the 12 months starting from fourth quarter of 2008, coinciding with the worst of the global recession. Three out of the four quarters saw total spend online decline in the United States, according to comScore.

The last four quarters, however, have seen a turnaround of sorts, with online purchases, measured in value, jumping by 11-14%.

“As we approach the critical holiday shopping season, we are optimistic about the continued health of the e-commerce sector despite other factors – including stubbornly high unemployment and volatile financial markets – currently weighing on the economy,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.

The fourth quarter is typically the best for retailers, including online ones, in the United States due to the holiday season.

The highest growth during the quarter was seen in digital content, event tickets, jewelry & watches, consumer electronics and computer software. All of them grew at least 15 percent, comScore said.

“40 percent of e-commerce transactions included free shipping, down from a peak of 49 percent in Q4 2010,” it added.