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A discounter could steal Apple’s online thunder by year’s end

It’s going to be a tight race for online sales this holiday season.

This was according to eMarketer’s latest retail forecast which revealed that Walmart is poised to capture an even larger portion of this year’s online retail sales. The discount giant will capture 4.0% of all online retail spending in the United States by the end of 2018, totaling $20.91 billion. In the analyst firm’s July forecast, eMarketer estimated that Walmart would capture a 3.7% e-commerce share this year.

Walmart’s momentum keeps it on pace to unseat Apple, and become the third largest retailer in terms of e-commerce sales this year in the U.S. The shift comes after eMarketer increased its share projections for the big-box retailer.

Despite Walmart’s growing e-commerce business, Amazon still leads the pack, and is expected to grab an estimated 48% of all online retail spending in the U.S. (This equates to more than $252.10 billion domestically, up just over 29% from 2017.) eBay comes in second, expected to grab 7.2% of online sales. Apple drops to fourth place just behind Walmart with 3.9%, and Home Depot rounds out the top five with 1.6% of e-commerce spending.

Walmart’s ability to capture more spending coincides with the company becoming one of the fastest growing e-commerce businesses. This year, its online sales will grow 39.4%. Wayfair, an online-only retailer, beats it slightly with a 40.1% growth rate. Meanwhile, Apple will grow just over 18% this year—less than last year— as domestic sales for smartphones and other consumer electronic devices begin to slow down, according to eMarketer.

When looking at the top 10 retailers ranked by e-commerce sales, Amazon still ranks highest with 4.7%, and e-commerce sales will jump nearly 30% this year. Domestic growth is coming from three categories: apparel and accessories, health and beauty and food and beverage.

eBay is next in line (0.7%), followed by Apple (0.4%) and Home Depot (0.2%). Best Buy, Qurate Retail Group, Macy’s, Costco and Wayfair round out the list (0.1%, respectively).

“Walmart’s e-commerce business has been firing on all cylinders lately,” said eMarketer principal analyst Andrew Lipsman.

“The retail giant continues to make smart acquisitions to extend its e-commerce portfolio and attract younger and more affluent shoppers,” he added. “But more than anything, Walmart has caught its stride with a fast-growing online grocery business, which is helped in large part by the massive consumer adoption of click-and-collect.”
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