Online sales by U.S. retailers grew by 3 percent to $31.5 billion over the first quarter, nearly double the pace of total retail sales, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

In the past year, online retail sales were up by 18.4 percent, compared to just 3.2 percent for total retail sales, the report said.  Between January and March, online sales accounted for 3.2 percent of the $999.5 billion in total retail sales, up from 3.1 percent over the previous quarter.

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