Online retail sales rose by 27% during the third quarter of 2003, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Commerce. E-tail sales rose to $13.3 bil during the quarter, compared with $10.5 bil for the same period last year. While significant, the growth still lags behind the sector's performance several years ago, when the market was growing at quarterly rates as high as 68%.
Third-quarter 2003 e-commerce revenue accounted for 1.5% of $872.5 bil in total retail sales for the period, compared with 1.3% of $822.1 bil in sales for the same period a year ago. The third quarter outpaced first- and second-quarter online retail sales, which were $11.9 bil and $12.5 bil, respectively. The fourth quarter has been the strongest period for retail performance, both online and offline, for the past three years, driven largely by holiday sales.