Online spending in U.S. gains momentum, says report

Study shows online shopping accounts for 10% of discretionary spending

Online shopping continues to show momentum, growing faster than overall consumer spending.

Online sales in the United States hit $37.5 billion for the second quarter of 2011, reported comScore, Inc., a company focused on online metrics. While the numbers are up 14% compared to the same quarter in 2010, they also represent the seventh consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth.

ComScore also noted that the April-June quarter was the third consecutive quarter of double-digit growth rates, and said 70% of all Internet users made at least one online purchase during the period.

"It's clear that consumers are continuing to shift to the online channel, with almost $1 in every $10 of discretionary spending now occurring online," said comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni in a written statement. "E-commerce's benefits of convenience and lower prices continue to be the drivers of the shift."

Fulgoni noted that this online growth isn't necessarily indicative of a strong retail or economic recovery.

"With economic growth remaining soft, the unemployment rate stubbornly high and financial markets in turmoil, consumers are less optimistic today than they have been in preceding quarters, which raises concerns for the future," he added. "We believe the third quarter will be an important indicator of which direction this economy is really headed and what that will mean for consumer spending."

There also was good news for the high-tech sector.

According to comScore, the top-performing online product categories included consumer electronics, computer hardware and computer software. Each category grew at least 15% compared to the same quarter a year ago.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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