CHICAGO (AP) _ First-quarter retail Internet sales rose 23.8 percent to $19.8 billion in the United States from $16 billion a year ago, according to preliminary numbers released Friday by the Department of Commerce.
E-commerce sales during the first quarter rose 6.4 percent from the fourth quarter, when they were $18.6 billion.
Sales for all periods are on an adjusted basis, meaning the Commerce Department adjusts them for seasonal variations and holiday and trading-day differences but not for price changes.
``Consumers are clearly moving more toward online purchasing as their level of comfort working with the Internet grows,'' Caris & Co. analyst David Garrity said.
E-commerce accounted for 2.2 percent of total retail sales in the first quarter, when those sales were an estimated $916.9 billion, the Commerce Department said.
Legg Mason Wood Walker analyst Scott Devitt said Internet sales have grown around 20 percent to 25 percent each quarter the latest year, and that stability is a good sign for long-term growth, Devitt said.
The jewelry category has had fairly rapid growth lately on the Internet, Devitt said. Consumers have taken longer to get comfortable purchasing jewelry using the Internet because it has higher average selling prices than many other items, he said.