Ecommerce Will Pass a Key Milestone This Year

Sales will account for one-tenth of total retail worldwide

eMarketer Editors

July 18, 2017

eMarketer slightly reduced its estimates for worldwide retail sales for 2016 through 2021, mainly because of foreign currencies’ weak exchange rates relative to the US dollar. Despite this, ecommerce sales will increase 23.2% in 2017 and, for the first time, account for one-tenth of total retail sales.

Total retail sales will reach $22.737 trillion by the end of this year, up 5.8% from 2016. eMarketer includes sales across all retail channels in its estimates for overall retail. This includes sales from ecommerce retailers and transactions that occur over C2C platforms such as eBay and other auction sites, and sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers and by gas stations. Travel, event ticket and restaurant sales are excluded from eMarketer’s forecast of retail and retail ecommerce.

The retail ecommerce market—which includes products and services ordered via the internet over any device—will total $2.290 trillion in 2017.


This article is drawn from eMarketer's new report, “Worldwide Retail and Ecommerce Sales: eMarketer's Estimates for 2016–2021,” which offers country-by-country estimates and forecasts of retail sales, ecommerce sales and mcommerce sales for 30 countries around the world. Subscribers to eMarketer PRO can access the report here. Individual copies of the report can be purchased here.


Over 1.66 billion internet users ages 14 and older will purchase at least one item via any digital channel this year, up 9.4% from 2016—the first time growth will slip below 10%. This will represent 60.2% of internet users and 26.8% of the global population.

Asia-Pacific will be home to more than half of the world’s digital buyers this year. Approximately 61.7% of Asia-Pacific’s internet users and 28.5% of its population will make a purchase digitally this year. With room for growth, Asia-Pacific’s digital buyer audience will increase 13.2% in 2017 and continue to expand by double-digit percentages annually through 2019—the fastest rate by region worldwide.

By comparison, roughly one-quarter of digital buyers worldwide will reside in North America and Western Europe this year.

Photo credit: mauro mora on Unsplash



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