2019 U.S. Online Retail Forecast
Has Anyone Noticed That Online Sales Growth is Slowing?
Would you believe us if we said the growth rate of U.S. online retail sales has slowed notably over the last three quarters? It seems improbable given the ongoing carnage in store-based retailing in 2019, but it’s true. For the first time since the end of the recession, online retail sales growth has decelerated for a considerable stretch of time.
It’s hard to know exactly what to make of this abrupt growth slowdown, as overall retail sales growth has slowed as well. With online sales growth (YOY) still in the low double-digits, such worrisome talk might seem alarmist. After all, the migration of retail sales to the online channel is very much a story in progress that still has years to run. However, if online sales growth has indeed reached an inflection point (and we’re not absolutely certain it has), this has big implications for the potential of the online channel in terms of its ultimate market share, which we’ll discuss shortly. For years, it has been taken as an article of faith that online retail sales will grow at mid-teen rates indefinitely. It may be time to question that belief.
(Note that we use the terms “online” and “e-commerce” interchangeably throughout this report, and that they refer to sales transactions consummated online by shoppers for retail goods from storebased, catalog or web-only retailers.)