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Consumers Continue a March Toward Online Shopping | Economy

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The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a shift toward e-commerce this year amid lockdown orders that kept people home and a lingering wariness of in-person shopping, and recent data foreshadows a holiday season driven by online sales.

Online retails sales as a percentage of total sales skyrocketed from April through June, jumping to 16.1% from 11.8% during the first quarter of the year – easily the most dramatic jump in the last two decades of steady increases, according to Census Bureau data.

And the latest numbers from Amazon’s Prime Day event reinforce the trend, kicking off what’s likely to be an e-commerce heavily holiday season.

Amazon has not released sales data from the two-day event, but estimates from third-party firms – though varied – indicate that purchases were up significantly over last year.

In the U.S., Prime Day sales jumped 36% from last year, according to research firm Edison Trends. The jump, while significant, is less than the 42% increase in Prime Day sales from 2018 to 2019, according to the firm’s estimates.

Amazon said third-party businesses that sell through the platform sold more than $3.5 billion in products during the 48-hour period, a jump of 60% from last year.

Other online retailers also saw huge sales figures Tuesday and Wednesday, with more than half of the top-100 e-commerce sellers offering competing sales in an attempt to lure shoppers away from the Amazon event, analysis from Digital Commerce 360 shows. Online sales for non-Amazon sites jumped 76% in the U.S. on Tuesday compared to the first day of Prime Day last year, according to Salesforce.com Inc. and Digital Commerce 360.

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Amazon postponed this year’s Prime Day after struggling to handle the influx of orders earlier this year. Prime Day is typically held in the summer.

Retail sales have rebounded after plummeting at the outset of the pandemic. Sales rose by 1.9% in September compared to the previous month, the Census Bureau said Friday.

While the forecast for the holiday shopping season remains unclear as the economy struggles to recover from the coronavirus-induced recession, consumer surveys show that Americans will be shopping online more than ever.

About 7 in 10 consumers said they’ll primarily shop online during the holiday season, according to a survey by CreditCards.com, up from about half of consumers last year.

Another survey, from Accenture, found that 75% of shoppers said they’ll do at least some of their buying online, an increase from 65% last year.

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