U.S. online sales growth slows, still above pre-pandemic levels, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

U.S. ecommerce sales in the second quarter of 2023 reached $277.6 billion. That is a 7.7% increase compared with the year prior, according to a Digital Commerce 360 analysis of U.S. Department of Commerce figures.

“While overall retail growth has slowed as economic uncertainty looms, shoppers are still increasing online spending,” says James Risley, research data manager and senior analyst at Digital Commerce 360. “Despite just a fifth of retail goods spending taking place online, it accounted for nearly half of the year-over-year growth.”


The Department of Commerce’s estimated total retail sales, both online and in-store, for Q2 2023 were $1,798.2 billion.

Total vs. ecommerce growth

Non-ecommerce sales grew 2.1% over Q2 2022. Retail spending surged in July thanks to the release of the “Barbie” movie and a succession of sold-out Taylor Swift concerts across the country, reported CNN.


Ecommerce penetration increased just 0.9% year over year. That’s the highest growth since the first quarter  of 2021, when penetration grew 4.7%.

Ecommerce grow slows, but pandemic-related boost remains

While ecommerce growth is slow, it’s still above pre-pandemic levels.

“We still haven’t seen ecommerce’s share of spending dip to the levels we would have predicted for this time frame pre-pandemic,” Risley says. “This means that the COVID boost to ecommerce was a permanent change to how people shop, even if other pandemic changes have worn off.”


How do we calculate ecommerce penetration?

Digital Commerce 360 studies non-seasonally adjusted Commerce Department data and excludes spending in segments that don’t typically sell online.

These segments include:

  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Automobile dealers
  • Gas stations and fuel dealers

U.S. ecommerce penetration reflects the share of dollars consumers could potentially spend online.


The Commerce Department defines ecommerce sales as the sales of goods and services where an order is placed by the buyer or price and terms of sales are negotiated over an internet, extranet, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) network, electronic mail, or other online system. The customer may or may not make the payment online. The Commerce Department publishes estimates it has adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes.

Percentage changes may not align exactly with dollar figures due to rounding.

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