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Given that the internet is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to send information long distances, it’s no surprise that people made retail websites to take advantage of this new technology. However, you can only see how far it’s gone by looking at some online shopping statistics.
- Global e-commerce sales are expected to hit $4.2 trillion in 2021.1
- Around 76 percent of U.S. adults shop online.4
- Over half of consumers prefer shopping in a physical store.4
- Smartphones are slowly becoming the preferred way to order online.1
The e-commerce industry and online shopping effectively cover all purchases that are made over the internet. Between stores moving online, third-party marketplaces and increasing internet access across the world, these online sales have become worth trillions each year.1
Stores have always tracked sales data, where their revenue comes from, and customer trends, so it makes sense that companies also watch similar e-commerce trends now that they’re worth so much. Luckily, many of these statistics are available for free, so we’ve collected 24 of the most interesting ones here.
Just over 2 billion unique people made at least one online purchase in 2020, according to Statista. 
In the U.S., around 18 percent of adults say they shop online at least once a week, compared to 57 percent who say they shop online less than once a month. As most people need to shop somewhere, the vast majority are still choosing to shop in-store rather than online for their more regular purchases. 
When you’re online, companies are constantly collecting data about you — you can read up on some data privacy statistics to find out more about this. Obviously, this isn’t great for individual privacy, but it does mean that there are plenty of interesting statistics to go through, so we’ll jump straight in to look at how e-commerce has grown and how much it might grow in the future.
Without a doubt, online shopping is widespread and pretty big, so these first six statistics will go into the true scale of how many people are online and how much money is spent on these sites.
1. How Big Is Online Shopping?
The first quarter of 2021 saw $876 billion in total global e-commerce sales, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index (ADEI). It’s even projected to reach $4.2 trillion annually by the end of 2021,1 which would make global online sales larger than the GDP of Germany (3.86 trillion in 2019).
2. How Many People Are Shopping Online?
In 2021 there will be around 2.14 billion unique online shoppers around the world.2 This means that over a quarter of the global population are internet users with access to at least one e-commerce site, and they’ve decided to make at least one purchase online.
Taking into consideration that only 60 percent of the world population has access to the internet,15 that means just under half the world population with an internet connection use it to shop online.
3. How Big Is Online Shopping in the U.S.?
E-commerce revenue in the U.S. passed the $400 billion mark for the first time in 2020, reaching $431.6 billion. This is about a 20 percent increase from the total revenue in 2019, which was $360.1 billion.3
E-commerce Revenue in the U.S., in Billions
4. How Much Will Online Shopping Grow?
Although we can’t know for sure how much online buyers will spend in the future, Statista predicts that retail e-commerce revenue will pass the $500 billion mark in 2022. It’s also estimated that, by 2025, online shops will generate about $563.4 billion in revenue.3
5. How Many Americans Are Shopping Online?
Given the high value of all retail e-commerce sales, it may come as no surprise that — even in 2018 — Marist Poll found that 76 percent of U.S. adults were online shoppers. Of this 76 percent of U.S. adults, 62 percent were considered regular online shoppers — people who buy something online more often than once a month.4
6. How Often Are Americans Online?
If you want to buy something online, you have to use the internet. However, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center study, 7 percent of U.S. adults never go online, and are therefore unable to access an online store.5
On the other hand, 85 percent of respondents said they went online at least once per day, with 31 percent saying they were almost constantly online. Although this doesn’t guarantee they’ll use online stores, it does mean that most Americans have the potential to become online shoppers at some point.
Although online shopping seems to be the future, these next statistics show that many people still like going into a store to see physical goods.
7. How Often Do People Shop Online?
Online retail stores often make it easier to buy things individually, as you don’t have to go out of your way to get to the shops and many sites offer free shipping. However, only 18 percent of Americans said that they shop online weekly or daily. Instead, most respondents shopped online a few times a month (25 percent) or between once a year and once a month (26 percent).4
This 2018 Marist Poll survey also found that 30-44-year-olds were the most likely to be regular online shoppers, with 56 percent buying something more often than once per month. On the other hand, 33 percent of the 45-or-older group said they had never shopped online before.4
How Often Americans Shop Online, by Percentage
8. Do People Prefer to Shop in-Store?
The 2018 Marist Poll study found that 56 percent of Americans prefer shopping in a physical store than online, if everything is equal. However, being able to shop at any time (64 percent), to find the item easily (62 percent) and to save time (61 percent) were all major reasons that could lead to people choosing to shop online.4
On the other hand, the BigCommerce and PayPal 2021 consumer spending report found that only 54.5 percent of Americans preferred shopping in person, and 12.2 percent didn’t care either way. This could just be a temporary drop, but if the trend continues, online shopping could quickly become America’s preferred way to shop.6
Reasons Americans Prefer to Shop Online
9. How Does E-commerce Compare to Traditional Sales?
A census by the U.S. Department of Commerce found that in the second quarter of 2021, online retailers made up 12.5 percent of total retail sales in terms of value, or 13.3 percent when accounting for seasonal variations.7
This is lower than the 14.7 percent of non-adjusted sales that occurred online in the second quarter of 2020. However, online shopping saw a boost of 43.7 percent between the second quarters of 2019 and 2020 — likely due to the Covid-19 pandemic — and the total sales only just started to pick up at the beginning of 2021 as lockdown restrictions eased and offline business began picking up again.
There are certain events that cause a spike in shopping, in-general: the holiday season, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic. Here are some statistics related to these shopping events.
10. How Much Does Shopping Increase in the Holiday Season?
According to the 2020 holiday shopping season review by Adobe, November and December saw Americans spend $188.2 billion online — over 43 percent of the total $431.6 billion spent online in the whole year. This also represents around two years worth of growth, as it’s up 32 percent from the $142.5 billion spent online in the 2019 holiday season. 3, 16
11. How Big Is Black Friday & Cyber Monday For Online Shopping?
Across the whole 2020 holiday season, two days stand out with the most amount spent online: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. A total of $9 billion was spent on Black Friday alone. This is around 4.8 percent of the total sales in the season, and makes Black Friday the second largest day for online shopping.16
However, despite the 22 percent growth Black Friday saw between 2019 and 2020, Cyber Monday still took the number one spot with $10.8 billion — 5.7 percent of holiday season sales. This is an impressive figure, but it only grew 15 percent from 2019, so we could see Black Friday overtake it in the next few years.16
Online Shopping Amounts in 2020, in Billions
12. How Covid-19 Affected Shopping
Due to the WHO classifying Covid-19 as a pandemic in March and the subsequent lockdowns and stay at home orders that came out, the first quarter of 2020 was mostly normal for online shopping. The U.S. Department of Commerce found just 14 percent growth between the first quarters of 2019 and 2020 — similar to the average growth of 14.1 percent between each quarter of 2018 and 2019.
However, between the second quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, e-commerce saw growth of between 32 and 43.8 percent — over double what would normally be expected. This calmed down to a modest 9.1 percent growth between the second quarter of 2020 and 2021, but it still represents a lasting change boosting e-commerce over physical stores. 17
It’s easy to leave a website and abandon your cart, and these statistics show how common it is and why people do it.
13. How Common Is Cart Abandonment?
Although many studies have been done on cart abandonment, they often yield widely different results depending on when they were run and the populations they looked at. In late 2020, Baymard looked at 44 different articles, and found an average cart abandonment rate of 69.8 percent.8
14. Why Do People Abandon Online Carts?
The 2020 Baymard study also looked at the reasons U.S. adults abandoned their carts. After removing the 58.6 percent who said they were just browsing and weren’t looking to buy, nearly half of Americans (49 percent) who had abandoned their carts did so because the extra costs — things like shipping and taxes — were too high.8
This study also found that the requirement to make an account (24 percent), lengthy delivery time (19 percent) and a complicated checkout process (18 percent) were all major reasons that potential customers went somewhere else.
Top Reasons for Cart Abandonment in the U.S.
Some of the largest and most well-known sites are marketplaces where other companies can sell their goods. These next statistics look at how big these marketplaces can get and which ones are the most popular.
15. How Important Are Third-Party Marketplaces?
When looking for goods online, it’s often easier to go through an e-commerce market. These are sites that other companies can use to sell their products and online shoppers can use to search for and compare different options.
The 2021 online marketplace report by Digital Commerce found that sales on the top 100 platforms accounted for 62.7 percent of the money spent online in 2020, which is slightly higher than the 60.1 percent in the year before.9
16. What’s the Most Popular Online Marketplace?
When looking at the top 100 e-commerce marketplaces, three companies made up 62.6 percent of all marketplace income and 39.1 percent of global e-commerce. These were Amazon, Taobao and Tmall — the latter two being sites owned by e-commerce giant Alibaba.9
17. How Many People Are Using Online Marketplaces?
In April 2021, 92 percent of U.S. consumers shopping online used a marketplace. Much of this shopping was done on major e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay, at 74 percent and 48 percent, respectively.9
However, not all purchases were made on these large markets — 42 percent of online consumers said they had made a purchase on a niche marketplace. This is up significantly from 29 percent in 2020, which is promising for these smaller and more specific platforms.
U.S. Consumers Who Used a Marketplace for Online Shopping
How Online Shoppers Use Different Devices
Shopping on your phone is often just as easy as on a desktop, and these statistics show how common it is to use different devices and how people shop differently on each device.
18. What Is the Average Order Value?
In the U.S., Statista valued the average order made by online shoppers using a desktop computer at $184.44 in the second quarter of 2021. This is up almost 37 percent from an average order of $134.85 in the same time period of 2020.10
19. How Do Other Devices Compare to Desktop Orders?
While Statista found the average desktop order was worth $184.44, the average order on mobile was worth just $134.39. However, mobile orders did increase around 41 percent over the previous year — from an average of $95.25 in 2020 — so they are slowly catching up to desktops.10
On the other hand, tablets had a reasonable average order of $101.30 in 2020 — just above mobile devices — but fell behind in 2021. As the value of average sales between 2020 and 2021 grew 37 percent on desktop and 41 percent on mobile, they dropped by 0.12 percent to just $101.18 on tablets.
20. How Many People Use a Smartphone to Shop?
The 2021 consumer spending report by BigCommerce and PayPal found that two-thirds of respondents said they made at least one online purchase with their mobile devices each month, and 17.9 percent made more than one a week.6
21. How Many Sales Are Made on Smartphones?
According to the ADEI, 40 percent of online retail sales in the U.S. were made through a smartphone in the first quarter of 2021 — up from 36 percent in the same period of 2020. These are impressive numbers for mobile e-commerce, but the majority of online purchases are still being made from other devices, like desktop computers and laptops.1
However, this isn’t the case for all countries. For example, the UK had almost half of all online sales made through mobile phones. It also found that many Japanese consumers preferred to use a phone, with 61 percent of all sales being made on mobile devices.1
The Importance of Reviews and Social Media in Online Shopping
Most online shops have some kind of review system and some social media sites are even large enough to become shops. These statistics show just how much other people’s opinions and reviews affect our purchases.
22. Are Reviews Important?
According to a 2021 Bizrate survey on customer reviews, only 8.7 percent of online shoppers will typically buy something without reading any reviews. On the other hand, more than half of respondents said they will read at least four reviews before making a purchase.11
However, while most consumers will only read a handful of reviews, 38 percent said they would only trust something with over 50 reviews. Just 12.9 percent of respondents said the number of reviews didn’t matter.11
The Bizrate survey also found that only 32.7 percent didn’t trust sponsored reviews. This means that, depending on the specific influencer and review, 67.3 percent of people had at least some trust in products after a sponsor review. However, as only 6.1 percent said they completely trust these reviews, they’re often better for increasing awareness for new customers.11
Percentage of Shoppers That Trust Online Reviews
24. How Often Do People Buy From Social Media?
The eMarketer e-commerce survey from October 2020 asked people if they were interested in social media shopping and found that 19 percent of people were either very or somewhat interested, despite never having used the platform before. The study also showed that 35 percent of people had bought something from social media sites in the past.12
These numbers were even bigger among 18-to-34-year-olds, with 54 percent of U.S. adults in this range having shopped on social media before, with a further 20 percent either very or somewhat interested.
E-commerce is a big industry, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Hopefully these online shopping statistics have made it easier to grasp consumer acceptance of online shopping and what’s important to customers.
If these kinds of facts and statistics articles interest you, check out our articles on cloud computing statistics and VPN statistics to learn more about these complex aspects of the internet.
Have you bought anything from an online store before? Did any of these statistics interest you? Were there any facts we missed? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading.
- Adobe Digital Economy Index
- Statista – number of digital buyers worldwide
- Statista – U.S. e-commerce sales
- Marist Poll – Digital Economy Poll
- Pew Research – How often U.S. adults are online
- BigCommerce – Consumer spending trends 2021
- U.S. Census – Quarterly retail e-commerce sales
- Baymard – Cart abandonment rates
- Digital Commerce – Online marketplace report 2021
- Statista – Online shopping value by device
- Bizrate – Shopper Survey Report
- Emarketer – Social media shopping
- Statista – E-commerce statistics
- WorldOMeters – World Population
- Data Reportal – 2021 April Report
- Adobe – 2020 Holiday Shopping Season Review
- U.S. Census – Adjusted e-commerce sales over time