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Forrester: Global e-commerce to approach $7 trillion by 2028

E-commerce spending in the U.S. will reach $1.6 trillion in 2028.

A new Forrester forecast is bullish on e-commerce’s growth trajectory during the next four years.

Total global online retail sales will grow to $6.8 trillion by 2028 from $4.4 trillion in 2023, representing an 8.9% compound annual growth rate, according to the Forrester “Global Retail E-commerce Forecast 2024 to 2028” report. In the U.S., online retail sales are expected to reach $1.6 trillion by 2028, accounting for 28% of total U.S. retail sales.

 E-commerce is more mature in the U.S. compared to Canada, with Forrester predicting Canadian online retail sales will reach $83 billion by 2028. Forrester says that Canada lags the U.S. in e-commerce penetration due to lower population density, a smaller market size, and slower consumer adoption.

Despite overall growth in e-commerce, 76% (or $21.9 trillion) of global retail sales will still occur offline in 2028, including $4.2 trillion in the U.S., according to Forrester. As a result, the report advises retailers to continue investing in omnichannel strategies that provide a seamless shopping experience both online and offline.

The report further states that retail e-commerce maturity varies globally. Advanced economies including the U.S., U.K. and South Korea are more mature due to higher internet penetration and digital literacy. 

As smartphone adoption and mobile commerce become more widespread, however, Forrester advises that emerging markets in Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe and Latin America are catching up, presenting new e-commerce opportunities for businesses and consumers.

Global highlights

  • In Latin America, online retail sales in the top six countries — Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, and Chile — will grow from $109 billion in 2023 to $192 billion by 2028.
  • In Western European countries — including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K. — online retail sales are expected to grow from $508 billion in 2023 to $773 billion in 2028, with online retail penetration increasing from 15% to 20%. The U.K. will continue to be the biggest market for retail e-commerce, followed by Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
  • In Eastern Europe, online retail penetration is half that of Western Europe. Forrester forecasts that online retail sales for the top five Eastern European countries — Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary — will increase from $72 billion in 2023 to $126 billion in 2028, with Russia and Poland leading the region.
  • In Asia-Pacific, online retail sales for the top five countries — China, South Korea, Japan, India and Australia — are expected to increase from $2.2 trillion in 2023 to $3.2 trillion in 2028, with China leading the region. China and South Korea are the top two countries globally in terms of e-commerce penetration and will each have online retail penetration of more than 40% by 2028.
  • In Southeast Asia’s top six countries — Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore — retail e-commerce sales reached $93 billion in 2023 and will rise to $193 billion by 2028 to capture 17.4% of total retail sales. Indonesia leads the region in online retail penetration, followed by Malaysia and Singapore. The Philippines and Vietnam will see a CAGR of more than 20% over the next five years, outpacing other countries in the region.

"The growth of online marketplaces, social commerce, livestream selling, and direct-to-consumer commerce will accelerate global online retail sales growth over the next five years," said Jitender Miglani, principal forecast analyst at Forrester. "However, e-commerce maturity and growth opportunities vary vastly by region. Retailers and brands must therefore have a thorough understanding of the key drivers of retail and e-commerce growth in their priority markets and tailor their strategies appropriately, to succeed."

[Read more: Global e-commerce revenue to hit record-breaking $3.64T in 2024]

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