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Important e-commerce implications for USPS

E-commerce is a rapidly growing percentage of retail sales as more people use the internet for shopping and package delivery. The two graphs below show total e-commerce retail sales and e-commerce retail sales as a percentage of total retail sales from 2000 to 2016 using data from the St. Louis Federal Reserve. The first graph shows that e-commerce retail sales have grown exponentially over the past 16 years, from $26 billion in 2000 to $390 billion in 2016. The percentage of total retail sales has grown from a fairly miniscule 0.6 percent in 2000 to 8.9 percent in 2016. Despite brief decreases during the early 2000s’ recession and the Great Recession, e-commerce retail sales have been increasing every quarter and the percentage of total retail sales has been on an upward trajectory.

This has important implications for USPS as package delivery becomes an increasingly vital part of business operations and revenue.

Maps produced by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the Department of Commerce provide another way to look at the high growth of e-commerce. The following two maps show the percentage of the population using consumer services online by state in September 2001 and in July 2015. Nationwide, the number of users grew from 44.7 percent of the total population in September 2001 to 68.6 percent in July 2015, an increase of 23.9 percent.

We also see that people of all age groups are using e-commerce. While the highest number of users have been, and continue to be, people between the ages of 25 and 44 (75.4 percent), 2015 was the first year in which people aged 15 to 24 exceeded the level of usage of those 65 and older (60.1 percent to 59.3 percent). The usage rate for all age categories has moved in a similar way, with moderately high growth between 2001 and 2003, slower growth from 2003 to 2013 (except for a slight decline for people aged 45 to 64), and then rapid growth from 2013 to 2015.

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