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Ecommerce

Fashion, Corporate Trademarks Drive Licensed Sales through Ecommerce Channels in 2018

Contact the editor at karina@plainlanguagemedia.com

In 2018, licensed retail sales through online/ecommerce channels reached $13.7 billion in the U.S. and Canada, up 4.7% from the previous year. In comparison, sales through brick and mortar channels were up just 0.8% compared to the previous year.

Licensed sales through ecommerce make up 12.4% share of all sales in the U.S. and Canada; over ten years, this share has jumped by 8.4 percentage points since 2009. Over 10 years, ecommerce sales have grown just over 270%, while brick and mortar sales grew 15% over the same period.


Entertainment/character- and corporate trademark/brand-based goods make up the majority of licensed retail sales through the ecommerce channel, with 16.7% and 16.1% share of sales, respectively.

In 2018, entertainment/character-based sales uncharacteristically staggered with just 0.6% growth to reach $2.3 billion—compared to a 10.0% increase in 2017 and 7.7% jump in 2016. In fact, 2018 was the slowest year of growth through ecommere channels since TLL first began tracking this metric for 2010. At 16.7% share, the property type has led in share of licensed sales through ecommerce every year for ten years, but this share is gradually declining.

In comparison, corporate trademarks/brand-based licensed goods increased by 4.6% to reach $2.2 billion in sales through ecommerce channels, just on the heels of 5.5% growth in 2017. Trademarks/brands recorded the largest dollar growth amongst the five major property types TLL tracks, with a $101 million increase compared to the previous year.

The fastest-growing property type in 2018 was fashion, with 4.9% growth in sales for a total of $1.9 billion . Historically, the category has seen the slowest growth in sales through ecommerce (apart from art-based goods); in 2017, growth was just 4.1% and in 2016 growth was 4.8% compared to the previous year.

Sports-based sales were up 3.2% from the previous year, compared to meteorotic 13.0% growth in 2017. It is the third-largest property type by ecommerce sales with an even $2.0 billion in value. In 2016, the property type grew by just 1.8% and in 2015 there was practically no growth (0.0%) in sales through ecommerce channels.

With the smallest share (5.4%, or $0.7 billion in sales), art-based sales through ecommerce have also recorded the smallest growth rates amongst the top five property types over the ten years TLL has been tracking such data. In 2018, art-based sales were up 4.7%, following an unprecedented 7.9% jump in 2017 and a -0.1% decline in 2016.


Retail Sales of Licensed Merchandise through Online/Ecommerce, by Property Type, U.S. & Canada, 2017–2018
Note: Numbers may not add up exactly due to rounding.
(Figures in Millions)
Property TypeRetail Sales, 2018Retail Sales, 2017Change, 2017–2018Share, 2018
Entertainment/Character$2,286$2,2730.6%16.7%
Trademarks/Brands$2,207$2,1064.6%16.1%
Sports$1,966$1,9053.1%14.3%
Fashion$1,905$1,8124.9%13.9%
Art$738$7034.7%5.4%
Other$4,620$4,2827.3%33.7%
Total$13,722$13,0814.7%100.0%

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