eCommerce growth a bright spot amid retail gloom

A combination of lower gas prices at the pump and the knock-on effects of slowing economic growth in China contributed to a global retail sales slowdown in 2015.

But there is a bright spot in the gloom: eCommerce.

Online sales are expanding faster than previously anticipated and are projected to increase by double-digit rates every year through 2019, according to a new forecast from independent research firmeMarketer. Led by China, the Asia Pacific region is expected to be the main engine of this growth.

In 2015, worldwide retail sales rose by 5.6 per cent to $22.5 trillion, down from a 6.1 per cent growth rate in 2014. eCommerce sales, by contrast, jumped by 25.1 per cent, reaching nearly $1.7 trillion.

While online spending last year made up just 7.4 per cent of global retail sales, eMarketer projects that eCommerce sales growth will outpace brick-and-mortar sales growth by a more than 3-to-1 margin from 2014 through 2019.  At this pace, eCommerce sales by 2019 are expected to more than double to nearly $3.6 trillion, accounting for 12.8 per cent of all retail spending.

With its rising consumer class and huge population of online shoppers, China is expected to play an outsized role in that growth. The report states that eCommerce sales in China will more than quadruple between 2014 and 2019. The country already leads the world in eCommerce, but by 2019, China’s eCommerce market will reach $1.97 trillion, making it 3.5 times larger than that of the US, according to the eMarketer forecast.

  • Nick Friedman writes for Alizila, the independent (but Alibaba-founded) news service on the Alibaba Group.

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