I’ve had a question for a month or so that I haven’t been able to find a good answer for. Just how big is the Internet Retailer 500?

In February, the US Department of Commerce reported that consumers spent $194.3B online last year. I want to know what kinds of businesses generated that revenue. Is it a few large retailers like Amazon & Apple? Or, is it thousands of niche retailers?

My theory was that the Top 500 internet retailers generated 60% of that $194.3B in 2011. In order to validate my hypothesis, I spent some time researching revenue figures for the Top 1000 retailers.

Turns out Internet Retailer lists the Top 1000 retailers each year and makes those numbers public here. However, in order to download the Excel file with all of the data, one needs to purchase $150 in reports. Turns out I’m cheap.

You think I won’t tally all of these manually, Internet Retailer? Really? Here’s what I found when I did just that:


  • $194.3 Billion was spent online in 2011 (US Department of Commerce)
  • The Internet Retailer Top 1000 is an accurate representation of the top retailers in the country. (High likelihood that there are successful retailers who aren’t on the list)
  • The Internet Retailer Top 1000 accurately reports revenue for each of the listed companies. (Possibility of some deviation)

The Numbers

 Interesting Data Points

  • Turns out my guess was low. The Top 500 internet retailers represent 77% of total retail sales in 2011. The Top 500 tallied $150B in revenue.
  • I was surprised by how little impact #500-1000 had on the percentage of total sales. They only had a combined $2.47B in sales.
  • 1000 and beyond is still a large market opportunity (22% of total sales) and represented $41B in 2011.
  • Amazon was at the top of the list by far with $34.2B in revenue.
  • #1-#500 ranged from $34.2B-$10.4M in revenue
  • #501-#1000 ranged from $10.3M-$161K in revenue

What do you think of these numbers? Surprised? Know of a better dataset to use? Would love to start a dialogue in the comments.

Mike Arsenault
Mike Arsenault is the Founder & CEO of Rejoiner. He works with 350+ online retail & eCommerce companies like Hydroflask, Footjoy, GUESS, and Big Chill to help them grow faster using lifecycle email. He also once lived aboard a 36' sailboat in Boston.