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Global Ecommerce Forecast 2021

Digital Leads the Way, Building on 2020’s Growth

About This Report
The pandemic was disastrous for many retailers; we estimate that total retail sales worldwide plunged 2.8% in 2020. Though, while many physical stores were shuttered, digital retail sales soared by over 25% in a single year.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

In-store retail sales fell dramatically when the pandemic forced consumers to stay home and physical stores to close. We estimate that total retail sales worldwide dropped by 2.8% in 2020. Even so, retail ecommerce boomed as internet users went online to buy all manner of goods, including groceries.

How much did the pandemic affect retail sales estimates?

Before the pandemic, we had forecast that total retail sales worldwide would rise by 4.4% in 2020, to $26.460 trillion. We now estimate that retail sales amounted to just $23.624 trillion last year—a decline of 2.8%. But in 2021, this figure will rebound to pre-pandemic (2019) levels, reaching $25.052 trillion.

How much will global retail ecommerce sales rise in 2021?

Following a 25.7% surge in 2020, to $4.213 trillion, we expect retail ecommerce sales worldwide to climb a further 16.8% this year, to $4.921 trillion.

Which ecommerce markets are growing fastest?

Last year, the pandemic fueled rapid acceleration of online buying in several countries that were somewhat lagging—and some of those will continue to see major expansion in 2021. India, Brazil, Russia, and Argentina are all projected to post at least 26% growth in retail ecommerce sales this year.

Which regions will generate the highest digital retail sales?

As in 2020, Asia-Pacific and North America will lead the regional rankings for retail ecommerce sales this year. China’s outsize role will mean that Asia-Pacific will account for 60.8% of retail ecommerce sales worldwide in 2021. North America will claim a 20.3% share, and Western Europe 12.6%.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report features our latest regional and global forecast for total retail, retail ecommerce, mcommerce, and social commerce sales and digital buyers.

KEY STAT: Following a 25.7% increase in 2020, retail ecommerce sales worldwide will rise to $4.921 trillion in 2021.

Here’s what’s in the full report


Exportable files for easy reading, analysis and sharing.


Reliable data in simple displays for presentations and quick decision making.

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Global Forecasts: Total Retail, Ecommerce, and Mcommerce Sales
  3. The Top Global Ecommerce Markets
  1. Digital Buyers: Social and Cross-Border Commerce Fuel Gains in 2021 and Beyond
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report


Karin von Abrams


Zach Goldner
Junior Forecasting Analyst
Peter Newman
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Shelleen Shum
Senior Director, Forecasting
Peter Vahle
Forecasting Analyst
Debra Aho Williamson
Principal Analyst
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