US Ecommerce by Category 2021

How the Pandemic Reshaped the Ecommerce Landscape—and What that Means for 2021

About This Report
The pandemic led to unprecedented growth in US ecommerce sales. Even as sales growth returns to somewhat normal levels in 2021, total sales will far exceed our pre-pandemic estimates.

Executive Summary

Last year, pandemic-driven demand for ecommerce accelerated sales growth for every product category. In 2021, sales growth will be lower compared with last year but will build upon the massive 2020 increase to far exceed our pre-pandemic sales estimates. Ecommerce will also make up a larger portion of total retail spending across product categories.

How will the pandemic affect US ecommerce sales in 2021?

We forecast US retail ecommerce sales will grow 13.7%, reaching $908.73 billion. Prior to the pandemic, we expected sales would grow 12.8%, reaching $761.26 billion.

What share will ecommerce command of total US retail sales?

Ecommerce sales will make up 15.5% of the $5.856 trillion in total retail sales this year. Prior to the pandemic, we expected ecommerce sales would make up 13.2% of total retail sales ($5.779 trillion) in 2021.

Which ecommerce categories will grow the fastest?

Apparel/accessories will grow 18.9% as the subsiding pandemic unleashes pent-up demand for clothing. The adoption of digital grocery will continue to propel growth for food/beverage (18.1%) and health/personal care/beauty (16.1%).

How is Amazon faring across ecommerce categories?

The ecommerce giant generates more than one-quarter of US ecommerce sales for every category other than auto/parts. Amazon also controls the majority of US ecommerce sales for books/music/video (83.2% of all ecommerce sales in 2021) and computer/consumer electronics (50.2%).

Which categories are most established in ecommerce?

In 2021, two categories will generate the majority of sales through ecommerce: books/music/video (69.1%) and computer/consumer electronics (53.2%), both of which became ecommerce-majority categories in 2020. We expect toys/hobby will be the next category to become an ecommerce majority, but not until 2022.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report breaks down eMarketer’s US ecommerce sales forecast by product category and discusses how the pandemic has affected sales growth and boosted ecommerce’s share of total retail spending for 2020 and 2021.

KEY STAT: Apparel/accessories will be the fastest-growing retail ecommerce category this year, as the subsiding pandemic unleashes pent-up demand for clothing.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. The State of US Retail Ecommerce Sales
  3. Amazon’s Ecommerce Category Penetration
  1. Ecommerce Categories in the Spotlight
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

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Blake Droesch


Bianca Carasus
Brian Lau
Digital Apprentice
Cindy Liu
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Nicole Perrin
Principal Analyst
Amy Rotondo
Director, US Research

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