The new Top 500

May 4, 2011 11:24 AM

A healing economy and a slowly improving jobs market gave consumers confidence to spend more in 2010. And when consumers were in the mood to shop, they spent more of their time and money online.

In 2009, a deep recession and a drop in consumer spending caused the U.S. business-to-consumer e-commerce market to grow by just 2% while total retail sales fell by 3%. But in 2010 the North American online retail market didn’t just snap back—it grew with gusto.

Online sales of the Top 500 retailers grew 18% to $150.0 billion in 2010 from $127.1 billion in 2009 while total U.S. e-commerce sales increased year over year 14.8% to $165.4 billion from $144.1 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. In Canada, based on an Internet Retailer analysis of e-commerce data from Forrester Research and Statistics Canada, the government agency equivalent of the U.S. Census Bureau, online retailing sales grew by 8.1% to an estimated $8.0 billion last year from $7.4 billion in the prior year.

In 2010, total U.S. retail sales grew 6.9% to $3.88 trillion from $3.63 trillion in 2009. But the online channel remains the fastest-growing segment in the retailing industry. “An improved economy certainly helped, but what fueled excellent growth online last year is the fact that shoppers are getting even more hooked on the convenience of researching and then buying products over the web,” says Lauren Freedman, president of The E-tailing Group, a Chicago research firm. “Today shoppers can use their computer or smartphone to shop where and when they want.”

This year’s Top 500 Guide reveals several trends that emphasize consumers’ continuing shift to online buying and the gains of large retailers:

  • Top 500 retailers grew their collective sales in the U.S. to $127.1 billion in 2010 from $105.8 billion in 2009, an increase of 20.1%. Last year, Top 500 retailers and their U.S. sales accounted for 76.8% of all domestic e-commerce sales compared with 73.4% in 2009.
  • The largest e-retailers grew the fastest last year. The Top 100 grew 18.8% to $129.4 billion in 2010 from $108.9 billion in 2009. In comparison, web merchants ranked from 101 to 200 grew year over year 14.1% to $11.39 billion from $9.98 billion, while retailers ranked 201 to 300 increased their collective sales 12.5% to $5.04 billion from $4.48 billion and retailers numbered 301 to 400 grew year over year 10.9% to $2.65 billion from $2.39 billion. The merchants ranked 401 to 500 grew their combined sales 11.6% to $1.54 billion in 2010 from $1.38 billion in 2009.
  • U.S. web sales now account for 7.9% of retail sales in categories of products that consumers often buy online, up from 7.2% a year earlier. That Internet Retailer calculation excluded retail purchases at restaurants and gasoline stations, and sales of heating fuel and groceries.

In 2010, all major merchant categories, including web-only merchants, chain retailers, consumer brand manufacturers and catalog/call center companies, increased sales, but it was the web-only merchants that grew the fastest. Driven by, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, the combined sales of all Top 500 web-only merchants grew 30.6% to about $56.89 billion last year from $43.55 billion in 2009.

More information about the 2011 edition of The Top 500 Guide is available by clicking here.




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