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Online retail in the United States is what most of us would consider a 'mature market', but that doesn't mean that its days of double-digit growth are behind it.

According to comScore, online retail spending hit $37.5bn in the second quarter of 2011, up from just under $33bn in the second quarter of 2010. That marks a 14% year-over-year jump.

As has been typical in past years, sales in the second quarter of the year are actually lower than sales in the first quarter, as consumers settle into a post-holiday shopping season pattern.

But this year's 14% second quarter year-over-year increase is notable for two reasons:

  • It's the largest Q2 increase since 2007, when spending rose 23%. 2007, of course, was the year before the global economy became unhinged. Thanks to the economic downturn, online retail spending actually had negative growth in the fourth quarter of 2008 and the second and third quarters of 2009.
  • In absolute dollar terms, online retail sales hit an all-time second quarter high this year.

So what can we glean from this? Clearly, the market for online retail in the United States still has quite a bit of momentum.

Tanking global stock markets could hint that another recession is a possibility. That wouldn't be welcome news for a global economy that has already been bruised and battered quite a bit in the past few years.

But even if the global economy slips again, comScore's data hints that online retail has plenty of room to grow, and while it isn't immune from the rest of the economy, the long-term trajectory will help the market snap back and reach greater heights once it rebounds.

Patricio Robles

Published 9 August, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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