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More US consumers are becoming cross-border buyers

Cross-border ecommerce continues to rise in popularity among US consumers, even as growth in the number of buyers slows. In 2023, the US will rank second globally in total cross-border buyers, with 69.8 million, per our forecast. It will trail far behind China’s 280.0 million, but that’s because of relative population sizes.

  • The US will add 2.3 million cross-border buyers in 2023. That 3.4% YoY growth rate is less than half the 7.0% seen in 2020 and just a third of the 10.2% growth in 2016. US cross-border buying really took off in the years prior to the pandemic due to the rise of ecommerce marketplaces that offered trust, English-language listings, ease of payments, and free or inexpensive shipping and returns.
  • Nearly a third of all US digital buyers will make overseas purchases online in 2024. We expect that 71.8 million US consumers ages 14 and older will be cross-border buyers next year, up nearly 25% since 2019. Pandemic-related product shortages and supply chain challenges led more US consumers to buy from overseas sellers. The US now ranks in the middle of the 21 countries we track in terms of cross-border buyer penetration.
  • Inflation will add new impetus to cross-border buying. Rising prices have weakened consumer loyalty to brands. Only 22% of US consumers said they’ve stuck with a trusted brand regardless of price, and 86% said inflation has made them look for better value when shopping, according to a January 2023 Mirakl poll.

Our Forecast Definitions

Our definition of cross-border purchases only includes transactions where the consumer is aware they are buying from a seller in a foreign country. Our definition of cross-border ecommerce only includes purchases where customs are cleared after the order has been placed. Purchases made via marketplaces such as Amazon, where an overseas seller uses Fulfillment by Amazon to store and ship goods from US facilities, do not fall within our definition.

Cross-border buyers are internet users ages 14 and older who have purchased goods online from a seller in a foreign country, either directly or through an intermediary (i.e., marketplace), at least once during the calendar year via any digital channel or device.