U.S. e-commerce has reached market share levels that were projected to be reached by 2022. According to the Department of Commerce, e-commerce accounted for 13.4% of total retail spending in the first quarter of 2021. Prior to the pandemic, it was expected to be 12.3%.
The year of growth that has taken place from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021 would take place over a two-year period. The pandemic moved it forward one year. A much smaller step change than the store closures would have suggested.
At the start of the pandemic, the decline in overall retail spending resulted in a much higher e-commerce penetration figure. By now, retail spending has recovered and so the figure is now more representative.
As of 2021, e-commerce penetration will not be reduced. It is expected to continue to grow from the current level. After reaching nearly $800 billion in sales in 2020, it will exceed $1 trillion by 2022, a figure that would not have been achieved until at least 2024.
E-commerce has been steadily increasing for more than a decade. The pandemic brought a sea change that boosted growth in one year, but has not accelerated beyond that nor fundamentally changed the role of e-commerce in retail. This has led to a steady increase for the next few quarters.