January 16, 2020 10:15 AM, EST

Americans Hit Fresh Online-Buying Milestone in 2019

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News

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Online shopping in the U.S. hit a new milestone in 2019, with a key metric surpassing every major category of brick-and-mortar stores except for big-ticket autos.

Nonstore retailers — mostly electronic commerce — posted 2019 sales of $778.4 billion, up 13.1% from the prior year and squeaking by the individual totals for the categories of food and beverage stores, restaurants and general-merchandise vendors, according to Commerce Department figures released Jan. 16.

For the full year, it was the single biggest category among the retail report’s 13 major sectors, outside of motor vehicle and parts dealers, which had $1.25 trillion in sales.

For December, nonstore retailers posted a 0.2% gain from the prior month but a whopping 19.2% increase from a year earlier, suggesting companies such as had a solid holiday season.

Chris Middleton contributed to this report.

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