Online shopping statistics show that while brick-and-mortar purchases still make up a majority of consumer spending, online shopping is steadily on the rise. And, with the added strain of the COVID-19 pandemic on in-store shopping, many legacy brick-and-mortar chains are struggling to stay open. Meanwhile, a crop of new small businesses, direct-to-consumer retailers, and ecommerce startups are gaining popularity with shoppers.
We’ve gathered over 30 online shopping statistics, along with their key takeaways, broken up into nine categories:
How Many People Shop Online
1. Many American adults (31%) are “almost constantly” online
More than a quarter of US adults report being online “almost constantly,” and 48% of adults go online “several times a day.” Young adults are more likely to be constantly connected, as 48% of Americans aged 18 to 29 are “almost constantly” online.
2. Surprisingly, 7% of US adults don’t use the internet
In 2000, 48% of American adults didn’t use the internet at all. Today, that number is down to 7%, thanks to government and social service programs. However, that is still 7% of the population that is only shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.
3. More than 255 million American consumers shop online
According to Statista figures, there were about 256 million digital buyers in the US during 2020—approximately 88% of the adult population. This number is projected to climb even more, reaching an expected 263.01 million in 2021 and 278.3 million in 2024.
4. Only 14% of all shopping dollars are spent online
Even though more and more people are shopping online and with higher frequency, most spending still occurs in-store. In 2020, 14% of all US consumer spending was done online—up only 3% from 2019.
5. Retail ecommerce sales are expected to reach almost $5 trillion
Globally, online sales are anticipated to reach about $4.9 trillion in 2021. This is up from $4.28 trillion in 2020. Future estimates put the total at more than $6 trillion in 2024.
6. Most consumers (63%) prefer the convenience of online shopping
Consumers are primarily drawn to online shopping because of the convenience of online checkout and returns. In fact, 33% of online shoppers are reportedly drawn to ecommerce because of easy returns, while 30% are attracted to the quick and easy online checkout process.
Notably, however, 53% of people report shopping online because of the free delivery, demonstrating that this is an important offering for online retailers to consider.
7. More than 50% of younger consumers want financing options for online purchases
Solutions that allow customers to buy now and pay later (such as Klarna, Affirm, Splitit, and Sezzle) help increase online shopping sales. About 70% of baby boomers report that having a financing option doesn’t influence them to make a purchase they otherwise wouldn’t have considered. Generation Z and millennial shoppers buy more items or more expensive items when customer financing is available.
Takeaways on the number of people shopping online:
- It’s no longer enough to just be a brick-and-mortar retailer. There are a number of ways to add an ecommerce component. This also allows you to reach a larger customer base than a traditional retail store alone.
- There’s still a need for in-person interactions, both for customers who don’t use the internet and those who do. Explore events, markets, pop-up shops, and other in-person retail activities to appeal to all groups.
- Your permanent retail store is still important. Focus on creating an in-store experience that’s synonymous with and builds upon the online experience—acting as a fulfillment center for customers who buy online and pick up in-store.
Devices and Technology
8. Mobile shopping expected to account for almost 73% of ecommerce
It’s projected that mobile ecommerce will account for 72.9% of global ecommerce in 2021. The number is lower—but still impressive—in the US, with 53.9% of online sales expected to be generated via mobile in 2021.
Online shopping conducted through mobile devices accounted for roughly $207 billion in the US in 2018. Sales made directly through smartphones were expected to slightly exceed $338 billion in 2020.
9. The average order value on a desktop is 42% higher than via mobile
While many shoppers are turning to mobile shopping—or mcommerce—they’re still spending more when they shop on traditional devices like desktop computers. In fact, in the third quarter of 2020, the average value of an order placed on a desktop was 42% higher than the average mobile phone order. There are many possible reasons for this, but 19.6% of shoppers find it difficult to view product descriptions on a smaller mobile screen.
10. Almost 65% of Amazon shoppers prefer desktop
It also appears that desktop experiences are still important to Amazon shoppers in particular. Nearly 65% of Amazon customers shop via the platform’s desktop site, with just 16.6% and 13.6% using the mobile site and mobile app, respectively.
11. More than half (61%) of consumers prefer retailers with AR capabilities
Augmented and virtual reality have the potential to increase buyer confidence by making it easier to envision product details. This can ultimately lead to increased brand loyalty and higher-value sales. In fact, 40% of consumers report that they would pay more for a product that they could view and customize using AR. Likewise, 71% of consumers say they would shop more if they could use AR to experience products.
Online shopping technology takeaways:
- Your desktop site is as important as your mobile site. Using a platform like BigCommerce or Shopify makes it easy to create a responsive, mobile-optimized experience for online shoppers.
- Leverage technology to enhance the ecommerce journey. Visual search makes it easy for shoppers to find your product, and AR/VR technology allows them to have a deeper product experience—one of the things lacking when it comes to ecommerce. You can also create a virtual tour of your store to entice shoppers to visit.
12. Almost half (48%) of internet users aged 18 to 34 have made a purchase via social media
As of October 2020, 35% of US adults report having made a purchase through social media (an 8% increase from April 2020). Older shoppers are less interested in the platform—60% of those 55 and older report having no interest in shopping via social media. However, social media is incredibly important for reaching younger shoppers. It’s reported that 48% of adults aged 18 to 34 have purchased through social media, and 11% do so regularly.
13. More than a quarter (31%) of US consumers use social media to discover products
According to the 2021 Shopper Experience Index from Bazaarvoice, more than a quarter of consumers in the United States rely on social media to learn about new products. Not surprisingly, the percentage is even higher for younger shoppers—43% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 47% of shoppers 25 to 34. Reach these shoppers by setting up a Facebook Shop and using it to create a shoppable Instagram page.
Social commerce takeaways:
- Facebook and Instagram have many tools for listing products, creating ads, and building a “social store” to drive sales through social media.
- Mix your social content with engagement and promotional posts. You don’t want your audience to feel overwhelmed with too much marketing and advertising.
Shipping and Fulfillment
14. US click and collect sales exceeded $58 billion in 2020
Click and collect, or buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS), is gaining popularity with shoppers, with over nine out of 10 shoppers deeming the option convenient. This is because the model allows consumers to browse and compare products from the comfort of their homes, and pick up the product immediately without having to wait or pay for shipping. In 2020, eMarketer reported $58.52 billion in click and collect sales in the US, and this amount is predicted to reach $74.24 billion by 2022.
Because BOPIS and click and collect are such big trends, many POS systems now come with those order fulfillment capabilities built-in, plus additional omnichannel sales tools.
15. Most online shoppers want two- to three-day shipping
According to Shippo’s annual State of Shipping report, the most popular delivery window for online shoppers is two to three days—46.2% of consumers and 40.7% of merchants prefer it. Additionally, 15.1% of consumers want same or next-day delivery. Perhaps surprisingly, though, 34% of merchants reported not giving consumers an option when it comes to shipping times.
16. Only 19.4% of shoppers don’t care about shipping cost
According to Shippo, 40.5% of consumers prefer stores that offer free shipping. Of those surveyed, 24.9% would only purchase online with free shipping and 15.2% would opt for a different store that offers free shipping. Only 19.4% of shoppers surveyed reported not caring about shipping costs at all.
In spite of the value of free shipping to many consumers, only 33% of merchants always offer free shopping. That number increases when you include those that occasionally offer free shipping or offer it more than half the time.
17. Many (41.2%) online shoppers care most about free shipping on returns
US consumers say they rarely (65%) or never (26%) return online purchases. Yet 41.2% of US online shoppers say that free shipping is the most important consideration when it comes to returning a purchase. In contrast, 28.1% of shoppers care most about the ease of processing a return; 19.6% don’t care about returns at all.
Shipping and fulfillment takeaways:
- If foot traffic is slow or your retail store is closed, consider using it as a fulfillment or warehouse space. Adopt new processes like curbside pickup, local delivery, or BOPIS to encourage more sales.
- Shop around with different carriers to find the most cost-effective option for you. Remember to balance budget and delivery time. You can also consider allowing the customer to choose from various shipping options.
18. Almost 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned
For small online retailers, it can take a lot of advertising to bring new customers to your website. However, getting shoppers to your site is only a small step toward converting them into paying customers. You need them to add your products to their shopping cart and complete the checkout process. But, on average, more than 69% of all online shopping carts are abandoned.
19. Abandoned cart emails see an 18% conversion rate
Abandoned cart emails are simple to set up and automate, and it can be an easy opportunity to seal the deal. According to one study conducted by Barilliance, cart abandonment emails earn an average 18.54% conversion rate. These emails also have an average 15.11% click-through rate for 2020, higher than the average 8.1% click-through rate of top-of-funnel emails.
Cart abandonment takeaways:
- Don’t forget to customize the checkout experience when you build your online store. Create as few steps as possible to make it easy for shoppers to complete a purchase.
- Incorporate automated abandoned cart emails into your strategy. Once you set it up, the email will be automatically sent without manually triggering the follow-up campaign each time. This is one of the easiest and most passive ways to increase online sales.
- See our full guide on shopping cart abandonment statistics for more information on how to reduce your abandonment rate.
How People Shop Online
20. About half of younger consumers impulse buy online
Of the millions of Americans who shopped online in 2018, 49% of those between 18 and 24 years of age made an impulse purchase. In fact, younger consumers make many more unplanned purchases than the average shopper—just 35% of those 65 and up report making an impulse purchase online.
21. Online apparel and footwear sales increased by 27.2% in 2020
It’s well-established that clothing and shoes are among the most popular items to purchase online. What’s even more impressive, though, is the increase in online apparel and footwear purchased in 2020. A study conducted by Coresight Research reports that sales increased 27.2% in 2020—reaching $121.5 billion in online apparel and footwear sales. Retailers who haven’t kept up with the online shopping trend are struggling the most.
22. Drunk Americans spent over $21 billion online in 2020
According to Finder’s Drunk Shopping survey conducted in September 2020, 21.4% of Americans report shopping under the influence of alcohol. In 2020, the average US consumer spent $768.58 in online purchases after drinking alcohol, and drunk Americans spend $30 billion online each year.
Takeaways on what people are buying online:
- Always remember to tailor the online experience to your particular product or offering. Someone who is shopping for a graphic T-shirt likely needs fewer product photos and specs than someone looking for a new mountain bike.
- Consider context when promoting your products online. What’s going on in your customer’s life and the world around them, and how does that impact their shopping needs? The more you can anticipate your customers’ needs, the better. You can integrate your POS system with your ecommerce site and use predictive analytics reports to forecast opportunities and demand.
Amazon Shopping Habits
23. Almost half (47%) of all online shoppers start at Amazon
More online shoppers turn to Amazon than Google. When looking to purchase an item online, 47% of online shoppers immediately turn to Amazon, whereas 24% of shoppers start with a Google search. About 14% of shoppers start elsewhere, like at a specific online store such as Target or Walmart.
24. Most (89%) shoppers are more likely to buy from Amazon than elsewhere
Not only do about half of consumers visit Amazon at least a few times a week, but shoppers are also extremely loyal to the platform. A 2019 survey reported that 89% of respondents were more likely to buy products from Amazon than another ecommerce vendor. What’s more, almost a quarter of consumers make a purchase on Amazon every few weeks—and 5% make an Amazon purchase daily or almost every day.
25. Most internet users shop on Amazon because of fast, free shipping
Consumers report a number of reasons for shopping at Amazon when making online purchases. Most striking though, is that 79.8% of internet users shop on Amazon because of the fast, free shipping. Similarly, 68.9% choose Amazon because of the platform’s broad selection; 65.7% of shoppers opt for Amazon because they are Prime members.
Amazon shopping habit takeaways:
- Though Amazon may not be a core part of your strategy, it’s a helpful tool to drive online sales and brand/product awareness. Amazon already has brand recognition and trust, so shoppers who are unfamiliar with your brand are more likely to trust a purchase through Amazon than directly from you.
- Consider selling only a select few products on Amazon, and keeping the rest exclusive to your store and website. Include extra benefits for shopping directly, like referral codes, customer rewards, and discounts.
The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on Ecommerce
26. Global ecommerce revenues experienced 10% growth in 2020
Because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on in-store shopping, global ecommerce revenues grew by 10% in 2020. This impressive growth is expected to continue in 2021, with global ecommerce revenue reaching an estimated $2.7 trillion.
27. Online grocery sales skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic
Online grocery ordering was invented 30 years ago with Peapod, yet in 2019 only 3.4% of all grocery sales happened online. This number saw a huge jump, however, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With shoppers more apprehensive about in-person grocery store visits, the percentage of grocery sales online increased to 10.2% in 2020. The percentage is expected to continue climbing and is projected to reach over 21% in 2025.
28. Over half (52%) of consumers reported avoiding retail stores due to the COVID-19 pandemic
More than half of consumers took steps to avoid brick-and-mortar stores because of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, more than a third of shoppers shared an intention to completely avoid retail stores until a vaccine was developed.
29. Almost all shoppers (91%) said they’d return to stores when a vaccine became available
As of early 2021, 23% of consumers in the US said they would not shop in an indoor mall until they had received a COVID-19 vaccine. Perceived risk decreases for activities like going to a mall entered from the outside (13% said they’d wait), going to a stand-alone retail store (4%), and going to a grocery store (4%). Another study reported that 91% of consumers reported being comfortable with in-store shopping once vaccinated.
Takeaways for the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on online shopping:
- Though the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the retail industry, it has also revealed new opportunities for brick-and-mortars and ecommerce sites alike.
- One advantage of being a small business is that you’re more nimble than big-box retailers. You can more quickly adapt to new trends, guidelines, restrictions, and customer behaviors.
- Now that a COVID-19 vaccine is available, in-store shopping may increase in popularity—at least in the short term.
The Future of Online Shopping
30. Purchases via social media are becoming more common
Younger generations are already making online purchases via social media, and it looks like this trend is here to stay. According to an eMarketer study published in 2020, the number of social buyers in the US is expected to increase from 53.3 million in 2018 to 94.3 million in 2022—over a 75% increase over just a few years.
31. Online retail revenue will surpass $550 billion in 2025
Between 2017 and 2019, retail ecommerce revenue in the US increased from almost $286 billion to just over $360 billion. And, while there was a huge jump to $431.6 billion in 2020—largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic—these numbers will continue to rise into 2025. Online retail revenue is expected to surpass $500 billion in 2022 and reach more than $560 billion in 2025.
32. Almost 26 million US consumers are expected to shop via smart speakers in 2021
As of 2018, about 28% of US households owned at least one smart speaker. That same year, the number of internet users who had used a smart speaker to make a purchase reached 15.9 million. In 2021, the number of shoppers making purchases via smart speaker is expected to reach 26 million.
To capture this demographic, businesses are investing in voice marketing. In 2019, 35% of US SMBs reported increasing their marketing budget to invest in voice marketing.
33. Shop local trends continue as consumers shop small business websites at 70%
Intuit surveyed 1,500 consumers, finding that 70% are supporting local businesses by shopping online only, or a mix of online and in-store. Many shoppers (57%) buy local to keep money in their local communities, while some others like supporting local creators (38%) and local nonprofits (19%). Some consumers also choose to buy from small businesses for better customer service (28%).
Takeaways on the future of online shopping:
- If you haven’t already developed a strong social media presence, it may be time—especially if your business is geared toward millennials and Gen Z.
- Online shopping may have experienced a surge due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it isn’t going anywhere.
Online Shopping Statistics by Industry
Global Revenues (2019)
Global Compound Annual Growth Rate (2019–2025)
Projected US Revenue in 2025
Electronics and Media
Toys, Hobby and DIY
Furniture and Appliances
Food and Personal Care
While online fashion purchases generate more revenue than any other industry, food and personal care purchases are growing at a faster rate. In general, advancements in personalization technology (including 3D printing and augmented/virtual reality) and advancements in the speed of ordering, production, distribution, and fulfillment processes are helping to drive growth in online shopping across every industry.
Online shopping statistics show that having a digital presence is critical for retail businesses. It’s more than just a place to sell your products—consumers are also using retail websites and social media to discover products, read reviews, and compare pricing before making a purchase online or offline.
To learn more about how customers like to buy and what it takes to turn a passive browser into an active customer, read our full report on payment industry trends for small businesses.