Total retail sales in 2001 were estimated at $3.2 trillion with California, Texas, Florida, and New York leading in volume. Retail sales were estimated at $772.2 billion in the first quarter of 2003. Total e-commerce sales during that period were $11.9 billion, an increase of 25.9% from the first quarter of 2002. In 2001, sales by automotive dealers totaled $840.5 billion. Sales by retailers of grocery stores totaled $434.4 billion and by department stores totaled $234.3 billion.
The growth of great chains of retail stores, particularly in the form of the supermarket, was one of the most conspicuous developments in retail trade following the end of World War II. Nearly 100,000 single-unit grocery stores went out of business between 1948 and 1958; the independent grocer's share of the food market dropped from 50% to 30% of the total in the same period. With the great suburban expansion of the 1960s emerged the planned shopping center, usually designed by a single development organization and intended to provide different kinds of stores in order to meet all the shopping needs of the particular area. Between 1974 and 2000, the square footage occupied by shopping centers in the United States grew at a far greater rate than the nation's population.
Sales in 2001 by Wal-Mart, the top discount department store chain, totaled $202 billion; other leading retail chains in 2001, were Home Depot ($53.5 billion); Kroger ($50 billion); Target ($39.2 billion); and Sears ($37.3 billion). Kmart, previously the second-largest retail chain in the United States after Wal-Mart, filed for bankruptcy in January 2002.
Installment credit is a major support for consumer purchases in the United States. Most US families own and use credit cards, and their frequency of use has grown significantly in the 1990s and 2000s with aggressive marketing by credit card companies which have made cards available to households that didn't qualify in the past. The number of cards per household in 2002 was 16.7, including bank credit cards, retail credit cards, and debit cards. The number of credit cards in circulation in 2003 was 1.3 billion. The average household credit card debt in the United States in 2002 was approximately $8,000, and the total credit card debt in the United States at the end of the first quarter 2002 was approximately $660 billion.
The US advertising industry is the world's most highly developed. Particularly with the expansion of television audiences, spending for advertising has increased almost annually to successive record levels. Advertising expenditures in 2002 reached an estimated $117.3 billion, up from $66.58 billion in 1982 and $11.96 billion in 1960. Of the 2002 total, $60.9 billion was spent in broadcast media (radio and television); $48.2 billion was spent on print media (newspapers and magazines), of which $2.8 billion was devoted to national newspapers; and internet advertising amounted to $5.7 billion.
In 2002 wholesale trade had combined total sales of $2.75 trillion.