Amazon dominates US ecommerce, though its market share varies by category

Brahm Buck

What’s changed: Amazon sales blew past our pre-pandemic expectations for 2020. Before the pandemic, we estimated that Amazon’s US sales would grow 17.2% to reach $260.86 billion in 2020. Instead, they grew 44.1%, reaching $318.41 billion. It will beat total sales expectations again in 2021. Our pre-pandemic estimates had Amazon […]

What’s changed:

  • Amazon sales blew past our pre-pandemic expectations for 2020. Before the pandemic, we estimated that Amazon’s US sales would grow 17.2% to reach $260.86 billion in 2020. Instead, they grew 44.1%, reaching $318.41 billion.
  • It will beat total sales expectations again in 2021. Our pre-pandemic estimates had Amazon growing 15.9% to $302.36 billion this year. We now expect it’ll grow 15.3%, reaching $367.19 billion, an upward revision of more than $64 billion.

There are two verticals where Amazon receives the majority of US ecommerce sales: books/music/video (83.2% of all US ecommerce sales in 2021) and computer/consumer electronics (50.2%).

The ecommerce giant will receive more than 45% of US ecommerce sales dollars this year in three additional categories: “other” (48.2%), toys/hobby (46.0%), and office equipment/supplies (45.6%).

Another way of looking at it: Amazon will receive more than one-quarter of US ecommerce sales dollars for every category other than auto/parts.

Amazon generates its largest portion of sales from computer/consumer electronics, which will make up more than one-quarter (26.6%) of its total US sales this year. Apparel/accessories is Amazon’s second-largest sales generator in the US, making up 16% of its total US ecommerce sales in 2021.

This year, Amazon’s fastest-growing segment will be food/beverage (24.7%) as digital grocery continues to propel growth in a relatively low-base category. (Food/beverage will make up just 3.7% of Amazon’s US ecommerce sales in 2021.) Apparel/accessories, already Amazon’s second-largest sales category, will also be its second-fastest-growing category, at 21.4% in 2021.

What’s changed:

  • In line with overall ecommerce trends, Amazon’s US sales growth was higher than expected in 2020 across every category. The largest upward revisions were to food/beverage, which grew 78.5% in 2020, compared with our pre-pandemic estimate of 22.7%. “Other”—driven by increased demand for home improvement products—grew 58.0%, compared with our pre-pandemic estimate of 18.7%.

(Note: We did not forecast Amazon’s sales by category for 2021 before the pandemic.)

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