Stanford Digital Economy Lab Seminar with Liran Einav
Assessing the Gains from E-Commerce
Live Virtual Event
Abstract: E-commerce represents a rapidly growing share of consumer spending in the United States. We use transaction-level data on credit and debit cards from Visa, Inc. between 2007 and 2017 to quantify the resulting consumer surplus. We estimate that e-commerce spending reached 8% of consumption by 2017, yielding consumers the equivalent of a 1% permanent boost to their consumption, or over $1,000 per household per year. While some of the gains arose from avoiding travel costs of buying from local merchants, most of the gains stemmed from substituting to merchants available online but not locally. Higher income cardholders gained more, as did consumers in more densely populated counties.