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comScore: Online retail sales break record with $1.3 trillion in 2023

E-commerce spending hit new heights in 2023.

U.S. consumers continue to spend more online, via both desktop and mobile.

U.S. consumers spent $1.3 trillion in online 2023 — or about  $1 trillion more than they did in 2013, when online spending totaled $235 billion, according to the comScore “State of Digital Commerce” study.

This made 2023 the highest-spending online retail year ever and the fourth quarter of 2023 the highest-spending quarter in online retail history. comScore data indicates U.S. consumers broke the $1 trillion online spending mark for the first time in 2022.

By quarter, comScore tracked the following digital sales figures, with year-over-year growth percentage and broken down by desktop and mobile results:

  • Q1 2023: $293 billion +22%, $189.7 billion desktop and $103.4 billion mobile.
  • Q2 2023 $305.5 billion +19%, $206.5 billion desktop and $99.5 billion mobile.
  • Q3 2023: $306.8 billion +18%, $202.8 billion desktop and $104.1 billion mobile.
  • Q4 2023: $389.2 billion +17%, $247.8 billion desktop and $141.4 billion mobile.

Top 2023 online spending categories 

  • Grocery/baby/pet - $266 billion.
  • Apparel/accessories - $204 billion.
  • Computers and peripherals - $133 billion.
  • Consumer electronics - $99 billion.
  • Furniture and appliances - $93 billion.

Desktop sales grow faster than mobile

Interestingly, year-over-year desktop spending growth beat the rate of mobile spending growth during the fourth quarter of 2023 for the first time in years, 21.1% compared to 10.9%. In the fourth quarter of 2022, mobile spending rose 26.3% year-over-year compared to 13.5% for desktop.

According to comScore, this possibly indicates mobile has reached its peak share of digital sales, falling to 36.3% in 2023 from 38.4% in 2022.

Other findings

  • Between the second and fourth quarters of 2023, growth in e-commerce beat the rate of growth in U.S. inflation, roughly 4% to 3%.
  • The percentage of total consumer online spending in the fourth quarter by month was largely unchanged from the fourth quarters of the previous several years - October 29%, November 37%, December 34%.
  • There has been a 287% increase in online grocery spending since the fourth quarter of 2019, which comScore attributes to new shopping habits formed during COVID-19 which have remained in place even as the pandemic has waned. Grocery spending on mobile devices has outpaced that of apparel since the first quarter of 2020.
  • Retail keywords with the most heightened social engagement between 2021 and 2023 revolve around saving - Bargain +308%, Budget +208%, Bulk +142%.
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