The latest data released yesterday by the US Commerce Department shows national e-commerce retail sales rising by 1.2% to $5.3bn in the first three months of 2000, compared with the last quarter in 1999.

The surge is seen as significant, especially given that the previous quarter included the lucrative run-up to Christmas. Commented one analyst: “E-commerce continues to ramp, despite some of the problems the dotcoms are having".

The result is a spectacular contrast with falling overall retail sales - down 8.9% from the previous quarter to $747.8bn. But despite its strong performance, e-commerce still accounts only for a fraction of the total US economy.

The report is only the second issued by the Commerce Department, which promised to continue monitoring the sector with the publication of quarterly reports.

News source: Financial Times