Despite a challenging 2020 for retail during the pandemic, new data from eMarketer suggests that worldwide retail e-commerce sales posted a 27.6% growth rate for the year, with sales reaching well over $4 trillion. That tally is projected to reach $5 trillion in 2022.
This represents a substantial uptick from the research firm’s mid-pandemic assessment that global e-commerce would decelerate to 16.5% growth and demonstrates the remarkable extent to which consumers have transitioned to e-commerce.
Even as total worldwide retail sales declined by 3% and recessionary conditions set in around the world, e-commerce managed to perform above pre-pandemic expectations in 2020.
eMarketer forecasts that worldwide growth in 2021 will be 14.3%, which is a relatively low number compared with 20.2% growth in 2019 and last year’s 27.6%, but it still represents $611 billion in additional e-commerce sales. Even as total worldwide retail sales declined and recessionary conditions set in around the world, e-commerce managed to perform above pre-pandemic expectations in 2020.
As recently as 2018, worldwide e-commerce sales had not yet topped $3 trillion. The report estimates that $4 trillion was easily breached in 2020, $5 trillion will be achieved by 2022, and $6 trillion will be reached by 2024. In 2020, 18% of all retail sales took place via e-commerce. In 2024, that figure will reach 21.8%.
“We anticipate that consumers will maintain many of their newfound digital behaviors in 2021,” Ethan Cramer-Flood, analyst at Insider Intelligence, said in a statement.
Cramer-Flood contends that with so much e-commerce growth fast-tracked in 2020 — and with a full year of relatively normalized brick-and-mortar commerce — 2021’s e-commerce growth rate will decelerate to some degree, despite enduring consumer enthusiasm.