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US consumers are increasingly seeing the internet as an alternative way to purchase goods as illustrated by the continuing rise in revenues from ecommerce retail sales.

US retail ecommerce sales for the first quarter of 2005 were $19.8bn, an increase of 6.4 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2004. Total retail sales for the first quarter of 2005 were $916.9bn, a sequential increase of just 1.5 per cent and 7.3 per cent up year-on-year.

Year-on-year, ecommerce revenues, which were adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, reveal a more significant increase of 23.8 per cent.

Sales over the internet accounted for 2.2 per cent of total retail sales, a figure that continues to increase quarter on quarter. In the fourth quarter of 2004 ecommerce sales accounted for 2.1 per cent of total sales, while in the first quarter of 2004 this figure was just under 2 pe rcent.

Since the Department of Commerce began tracking online retail sales in 1999, ecommerce sales have increased as a percentage of total sales from 0.6 per cent to the current figure of 2.2 per cent.

Ecommerce has emerged as one of the fastest growing sales channels for US retailers. According to Forrester Research, ecommerce in the US will grow at 10-20 per cent compound annual growth over the next five years and reach $316bn by 2010. The research firm predicts that by 2010, 77 per cent of US households will have regular online access, with 40 per cent buying online.

Purchases over the internet, email or other electronic networks, referred to as ecommerce sales, include most goods and services but exclude online travel services, ticket sales and services of financial brokers and dealers.

© ENN

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