< Return to insights

Social commerce surpasses $30 billion in the US

Social commerce sales in the US are picking up, but the size of the market pales in comparison to that of China, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast on social commerce.

In 2021, US social commerce sales will rise by 35.8% to $36.62 billion. That’s only a slight deceleration in growth from social commerce’s blowout 2020, when sales surged by 38.9%, thanks mainly to the pandemic-driven boom in ecommerce and increased social media consumption.

US Retail Social Commerce Sales, 2019-2025 (billions and % change)

Despite strong growth, the US’s social commerce market will be about one-tenth the size of China’s—$351.65 billion in 2021.

Retail Social Commerce Sales in China vs. the US, 2021 (billions)

The US also lags behind China when looking at social commerce as a percentage of total ecommerce sales. This year, we expect social commerce to make up just 4.0% of the US retail ecommerce market, compared with 13.7% in China. The gap between the two countries will remain fairly stable through 2024, when social commerce will make up 5.0% of US retail ecommerce sales versus 14.5% in China.

“US marketers can look to China as a roadmap for social commerce’s development as many of the trends that will drive its growth, like livestream shopping, originated in China,” said eMarketer senior analyst at Insider Intelligence Jasmine Enberg. “Keep in mind, however, that it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. The social and ecommerce landscapes in the US are far more fragmented than those in China, and consumer behavior and attitudes toward digital shopping, social media consumption, online privacy, and payments are different as well.”

Retail Social Commerce Sales in China vs. the US, 2019-2025 (% of total retail ecommerce sales)

Our inaugural forecast shows that Facebook is the No. 1 social commerce platform in the US; we expect 22.3% of US internet users, or 56.1 million people ages 14 and older, will make at least one purchase on Facebook in 2021. Meanwhile, 12.9% of internet users, or 32.4 million people, will make a purchase on Instagram, compared with 5.6% of internet users, or 13.9 million people, on Pinterest.

US Social Commerce Buyers, by Platform, 2021 (millions and % of internet users)

Another reason for China’s strong lead in social commerce, of course, is the sheer number of social buyers in the country. In 2021, we expect 424.4 million people ages 14 and up in China to make at least one social commerce purchase during the calendar year, versus just 90.2 million in the US.