While total retail sales declined 1.5% in the first quarter of 2015, sales on e-commerce websites increased 3.5% in the first three months of the year from the previous quarter, Bloomberg Business reported. According to seasonally-adjusted figures by the Commerce Department, e-commerce sales for the quarter reached $80 billion worth of purchases, bringing a 14.5% increase of online purchases year-over-year, whereas total sales only increased 1.6%.
While online sales have consistently outperformed the overall index and have better weathered economic hardships as seen in 2008 and 2009, since the start of the recovery, quarterly increases in e-commerce sales have averaged 3.7% versus 1.1% for total sales, Bloomberg noted. Simultaneously, the share of e-commerce as a percent of total retail sales rose to 7% from 0.6% in 1999.
According to Bloomberg, that 7% is aggregated for all industries. For some industries, like clothing, the percentage of e-commerce sales is more than double; closer to 15%, the report noted.
For housewares, the most notable e-commerce story is that of Williams-Sonoma, whose 2014 net e-commerce revenues came in ahead of those for brick and mortar stores.