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Brick And Mortar Sales Grew Faster Than E-Commerce In 2021


Aerial view of Londoners crowding inside during the opening day of the Westfield Stratford shopping … [+] mall. Situated on the fringe of the 2012 Olympic park, Westfield hosted its first day to thousands of shoppers eager to see Europe’s largest urban shopping centre. The £1.45bn complex houses more than 300 shops, 70 restaurants, a 14-screen cinema, three hotels, a bowling alley and the UK’s largest casino. It will provide the main access to the Olympic park for the 2012 Games and a central ‘street’ will give 75% of Olympic visitors access to the main stadium so retail space and so far 95% of the centre has been let. It is claimed that up to 8,500 permanent jobs will be created by the retail sector. (Photo by In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)

Corbis via Getty Images

The US Department of Commerce Retail Indicator Division, released the December 2021 Monthly Retail Trade Report on Wednesday February 16th, giving a complete picture of 2021. The top-line number is that US retail sales for 2021 were $5.6 trillion, representing 17.9% growth from the previous year. 2021 was one of the strongest years in US retail history, growing more than twice as fast as any of the previous 30 years.

Brick and mortar stores grew faster than e-commerce for the first time ever, with physical stores growing at 18.7% versus e-commerce growth of 12.9%. That 12.9% growth is slightly above the typical annual growth rate, but much lower than the 25.3% growth e-commerce experienced in 2020.

Store vs. E-Commerce Sales

US Dept of Commerce

Comparing 2021 to before the pandemic, retail sales were 19.1% higher than 2019. During the same two-year period, e-commerce grew 41%.

Before the pandemic, in 2019, e-commerce sales represented 12.3% of all retail sales. In the midst of the pandemic in 2020 with many consumers avoiding trips to the store, e-commerce grew to 15% of all retail sales. In 2021, e-commerce share of retail sales dipped to 14.3%. Hardly the ten years of accelerated e-commerce growth that some predicted.

E-Commerce share of retail sales

US Dept of Commerce

Looking forward, eMarketer predicts that total retail sales will grow 3% and e-commerce will grow 14.1% in 2022, a return to pre-pandemic growth rates.


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