Have your buying patterns changed over the course of the pandemic? Data from the U.S. Census Bureau Monthly Retail Trade Survey track retail activity in the nation and provide some evidence of change in consumer buying habits over the past six quarters. The chart below shows the growth in e-commerce sales as a percentage of total retail sales in the United States.
The Census Bureau defines e-commerce sales as sales of goods and services where an order is placed by the buyer or price and terms of sale are negotiated over an Internet, extranet, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) network, electronic mail, or other online system. Payment may or may not be made online. Sales data exclude sales taxes and the value of merchandise returned by customers. Online travel services, financial brokers and dealers, and ticket sales agencies are not classified as retail and are not included in either the total retail or retail e‐commerce sales estimates. To learn more about how the Census collects and classifies e-commerce retail sales, visit the Census Bureau Monthly Retail Trade website.
Retail industry analysts, trade organizations, media outlets, and private businesses actively monitor and analyze the quarterly releases of these statistics – as an important tool in forecasting and planning for the future.