US ecommerce sales up 15% in Q2, outlook cautious: comScore

U.S. retail e-commerce sales rose for the eleventh consecutive quarter in April-June, online market tracker comScore, Inc. said, but added that it was cautious about the second half of the year.

Online retail spending jumped 15 percent in the second quarter of 2012 to $43.2 billion, comScore said, registering the seventh consecutive quarter of double-digit growth.

The fastest growing segments were digital content & subscriptions, consumer electronics, flowers, greetings & fifts, computer hardware and apparel & accessories. Each category grew at least 16 percent vs. a year ago, comScore said.

The news is in contrast to an overall feeling of gloom and doom in the economy, with Eurozone uncertainties weighing on companies’ performances. The news also underlines the relative strength of the U.S. economy compared to other parts of the world, despite high local unemployment levels.

Growth has been moderating in Asia and countries in Europe have seen their economies shrink due to debt-concerns.

“While the second quarter’s 15-percent growth rate couldn’t quite match the especially high growth rate from the first quarter, it was nevertheless almost four times higher than the growth in overall consumer spending, a sign of continued strength in the e-commerce channel,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.

“That said, although e-commerce remains strong, we are taking a cautious view of the second half of the year in light of some renewed signs of economic uncertainty and a stubbornly high unemployment rate,” he added.

He noted that consumer perception of the economy has recently deteriorated, with 56 percent now viewing economic conditions as poor, up from a level of 49 percent three months ago.

“So, even as commerce increasingly shifts to the online channel, any significant future pullback in overall consumer spending could dampen the strong double-digit growth rates we’ve been experiencing for the year-to-date.”

The quarterly report also found that 42 percent of e-commerce transactions included free shipping, representing a seasonal pullback from the Q4 2011 high of 52 percent.