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How Many People Shop Online? [12 Burning Questions Answered]

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We buy products online for various reasons, ranging from price to convenience and delivery options.

The thing is:

Global internet access, connectivity, and the ability to shop from any device anytime anywhere have all contributed to the steady rise in the percentage of shopping done online.

In terms of payment methods:

Ecommerce shoppers prefer to use PayPal, followed by credit cards and debit cards.

Which brings us to the $64,000 dollar question:

How Many People Shop Online?

Global online shopping statistics show that in 2021, 65% of internet users worldwide will shop online at least once. 

And in the US, the number of online shoppers will reach 263.01 million this year.

What’s more: 

In 2024, it is expected to rise to a whopping 278.33 million. In other words, the percentage will rise from about 80.12% in 2021 to 84.79% of the entire US population in 2024 (if we take the 2019 Census data as the starting point for our calculation).

This is huge!

Clearly, American customers are happy with their shopping experience. So, online retail is currently at 82 points (out of 100) on the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

1. How Much Shopping Is Done Online?

(Statista, G2 Learning Hub, Shopify)

The size of the worldwide online shopping market in 2020 was estimated at around 2 billion customers. That number is expected to rise to 2.14 billion in 2021.

If we look at online shopping statistics by year, this represents a considerable rise in the number of online consumers, up from 1.92 billion in 2019, and 1.8 billion in 2018.

The Chinese online market is the largest in the world, while the US comes second, spending only half the amount China does.

The average North American shopper has 19 transactions a year, while the average Asian buyer makes 22.1 online purchases.

2. How Many Americans Shop Online?

(Statista, G2 Learning Hub, NPR/Marist Poll)

Expectations for online shopping in the USA in 2019 were high, claiming 80% of internet users would buy at least one thing during the year. This number was significantly smaller in 2013, only 73%.

Looking at the entire consumer body, 69% of all Americans say they have made an online purchase in 2018, and 25% of them do so once a month.

Online shopping statistics from 2020 show there were 256 million buyers in the United States, and by the next year, these numbers are expected to rise to 263.01 million solidifying America’s position in the second place in terms of ecommerce market size.

3. What Percentage of All Retail Sales Are Online?

(Statista, U.S. Census Bureau, Oberlo)

Online purchase statistics for 2020 show 16.1% of all global retail sales were made online. 

In 2021, experts predict that this percentage will reach 18.1% of all retail sales worldwide. That means that we already make almost a fifth of all purchases online! 

What’s more, we can expect a further increase in online shopping, especially after the events of 2020. How much?

Well, this percentage is expected to reach at least 22% in the next three years.

And what about the US? The latest online sales statistics show that in the third quarter of 2020, ecommerce sales made up 14.3% of total US retail sales. 

4. Why Is the Number of Online Shoppers Growing?

(NPR/Marist Poll)

The percentage of online shoppers is growing as more and more buyers see the advantages of ecommerce.

Check this out:

Over 39% of buyers claim the determining factor in deciding to buy online instead of in a physical store is the speed of the transaction. The price difference is a determining factor for 23%, and the physical distance from the store is something that drives another 23% to buy online.

Additionally, 78% of US customers prefer to shop online because of the lack of crowds and waiting in line. Recommendations and reviews are highly appreciated, and the ability to read these is what drives 56% of US online shoppers to buy.

However, 56% of online buyers still like the personal touch classic shopping provides.

5. What Are People Buying Online?

(Statista, G2 Learning Hub, Forbes, The Atlantic)

With 562 million products listed on Amazon alone as of January 2018, it’s safe to say people buy online everything that can be shipped, delivered, or provided.

The sky’s the limit!

From clothing, footwear, and gadgets to books and courses. 

But wait, there’s more:

Groceries have a projected growth of 12.7 % CAGR from 2017 to 2023, while the average industry growth for food and beverage stands at 8.7%.

Which brings us to the next question:

6. What Do People Buy the Most Online?

(Statista, Nielsen, Marist, The Atlantic, G2 Learning Hub)

The most popular categories and items bought online show that online shopping trends are not changing too much. Yes, most categories are experiencing growth, but clothes and footwear remain steady in the leading position across the globe. 

Here’s the scoop:

Worldwide, most online sales were made in the clothing sector (61%), followed by travel with 59%. Books and music came third at 49%, while 60% of consumers said they prefer to buy this category online. The fourth and fifth categories are IT and events with 47% and 45%, respectively.

Now:

The United States is not an exception. 58% of American adults have bought clothes online, while 22% of all apparel sales happened online in 2018. 

30% of all computer and electronic sales took place online. The most popular ecommerce industries in North America were video gaming at 31%, packed groceries at 19%, medicine at 25%, and alcoholic drinks at 9%.

7. How Many Products Are Bought Online?

(ScrapeHero)

There is no statistical way to measure the exact number of products sold globally online.

Amazon alone had a total of 562,382,292 products listed for sale in 2018. 

Now:

We could look at the number of transactions, but that would not be accurate, as customers often buy more than one item. Likewise, the percentage of internet users who shop online offers us no clear answer about the exact number of goods. 

There’s also the average revenue per shopper, which varies from country to country. While interesting in itself, it still fails to deliver the info.

Bottom line:

The total number of products bought online is all but impossible to determine definitively.

So, we must look at the size and growth of online markets through other online shopping data

8. How Many People Shop Clothing Online?

(Statista)

58% of US adults have bought clothing online. 

Combined, 84% have bought shoes or clothes. After fashion items, the second product category is electronics, with 48% of adults in America having bought a computer, headphones, speakers, or a TV on the internet.

9. How Many More People Shop Online Compared to in Store?

(U.S Census Bureau, Forbes, Oberlo)

Statistics on online shopping vs in-store shopping show that ecommerce sales made for about 16.1% of total retail sales in 2020.

However, the boundary between online and in-store is steadily becoming less pronounced. With click-and-collect, curbside pick-up arrangements, and most purchases starting with online research, shopping is becoming an increasingly unified experience.

Still, an interesting difference shows up in the numbers: 

71% of consumers tend to spend over $50 more when buying in stores than they would if they were buying online.

Men especially prefer the in-store shopping experience, with 73% of them who would rather visit a shop when buying clothes. In contrast, women say they buy equally.

10. Who Does the Most Online Shopping?

(NPR/Marist Poll, Forbes)

Some interesting online shopping facts on gender reveal that men tend to buy costlier items. 

Here’s the deal:

36% of them have bought something that costs over $1,000, whereas only 18% of women report doing the same. 

When it comes to buying tech, 52% of men and 43% of women buy online, while 36% of men and 34% of women do so in the stores.

11. What Age Group Buys the Most Online?

(Statista, Eurostat, Business Insider, G2 Learning Hub, CNBC)

The largest proportion of online buyers in the United States is Gen Xers aged 35 to 44. They belong to a generation that is currently large in numbers, tech-savvy, and earning high enough incomes. They spend $1,930 annually online. 

In comparison, Millennials buy more frequently and spend around $2000 a year online. They are still the demographic that sellers are most focused on, as they spend more.

Interesting fact:

Up to 78.2% of Millennial buyers admit to making impulsive purchases.

Now:

Those buying online once or twice are mostly people aged 55 to 74, with 50.3% doing so.

When it comes to the youngest group, aged 18 to 24, 86.4% have made an online purchase at least once. 

12. How Many People Use a Mobile Device to Shop Online?

(Statista, Smart Insights, G2 Learning Hub)

Due to the constant growth over the last couple of years, mobile shopping is now equal to desktop shopping. 

According to the stats, 11% of users reported shopping through a mobile device every week.

For now, the average spending via mobile devices remains lower than that via desktop purchases, due to a trend of browsing over the phone then switching to desktop to buy.

Here’s the scoop:

Mobile devices usually bring in 53% of online traffic to a store. But when it comes to revenue, the number is only 37%. 

With desktop computers, the situation is different. Browsing on them is lower, bringing in 32% of traffic, but they are scoring 56% of all purchases. 

And on that note:

Conclusion

Online shopping is fast, convenient, and comfortable. 

It gets better:

With free deliveries and return policies, it brings people who don’t like the buzz of in-store shopping. It offers an escape and an easy solution. 

No wonder online shopping numbers continue to rise. Our fast-paced lives do not leave much room for driving to remote shops and standing in lines, only to complete a chore that we can be done with during the commute home. 

Simply put: 

When it comes to online sales, the only way is up.

Sources: