Reports: digital, especially mobile, driving trillions in offline retail spending

The $354 billion in 2016 e-commerce sales is small potatoes compared with offline retail spending: over $4.5 trillion according to US government figures. But what’s also larger than e-commerce is offline spending influenced by the internet — between $1 and $2+ trillion, depending on the estimate.

According to a new Forrester research report, $1.26 trillion of local retail sales were affected in some way by digital media in 2016. The firm also projects that by 2021 mobile devices alone will influence $1.4 trillion in local sales.

Forrester: Digital influence on offline retail sales

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Forrester’s total retail figure is lower than the US government figures. The firm also probably under-counts the influence of digital on in-store sales today.

Considered purchases in most categories see heavy online/mobile research before offline buying. Surveys also show that 80 – 90 percent of smartphone owners use their phones while in a physical store. (There are many other studies with comparable data.)

An earlier, competing forecast from Deloitte asserts that digital now influences roughly 56 percent of offline retail sales. The consultancy estimates that $2.1 trillion of traditional retail sales in 2016 were influenced by digital, with $1.4 trillion of that being driven by mobile.

Deloitte: Digital influence on in-store sales

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Regardless of whether Forrester’s estimate or Deloitte’s is more accurate, these are huge numbers and in Deloitte’s case nearly order of magnitude larger than pure e-commerce.

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