U.S. consumers' online spending likely to increase 15.4% to US$224.2B year-over-year in 2012, up from previous estimate of an 11.3% gain, because of declining unemployment, gains in homebuilding and consumer optimism, says researcher

LOS ANGELES , April 6, 2012 () – Digital commerce, marketing and media analytics firm eMarketer said that U.S. consumers’ online spending will likely increase 15.4% to US$224.2 billion year-over-year in 2012, up from US$194.3 billion, Internet Retailer reported April 5.

Earlier, eMarketer had predicted that U.S. online sales would rise 11.3% to $209.3 billion, up from $188.1 billion the previous year.

A company spokesperson said that the revision was a response to variety of factors including declining unemployment figures; multiple reports suggesting gains in homebuilding, consumer optimism and the number of Internet shoppers; and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s report that e-commerce sales during 2011—and particularly during the fourth quarter—had surpassed previous expectations.

U.S. e-commerce sales in 2011 rose 16.1% to $194.3 billion year-over-year, up from $167.3 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce said in February. During the fourth quarter, seasonally adjusted e-commerce retail spending rose 15.5% to $51.4 billion, up from $44.5 billion during the same period in 2010.

According to statistics provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the unemployment rate in February fell to 8.3% year-over-year, down from 9.0%. Month-over-month, the unemployment rate in February 2012 remained unchanged.

On February 5, eMarketer reported that:

        • U.S. e-commerce sales of accessories and apparel will rise 19.7% to $40.90 billion in 2012.

        • The growth rate for the apparel sector in 2012 will most likely exceed the growth rate for the nine other product categories included in eMarketer’s forecast.

        • E-commerce book, music and video sales will likely rise to $20.35 billion, an 18% increase year-over-year.

        • E-commerce consumer electronics and computer sales will likely rise to $48.60 billion, a 15.9% increase in comparison to 2011.

eMarketer principal analyst Jeffrey Grau said that retailers were continuing to expand their e-commerce operations, particularly via investments “in online sales platforms that display products and convert shoppers more effectively.” Apparel sales have benefited more than any other category from these changes. The apparel sector’s success online has been largely driven by the presence and availability of customer reviews, “innovative visualization tools,” and a returns process that is both easy to use and free for the consumer, he added.

The primary source of this article is Internet Retailer, Chicago, Illinois, on April 5, 2012.

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