Online Retail Set For Rebound

    June 26, 2009

Online retail sales in the U.S. (excluding travel) will reach nearly $132 billion in 2009, down 0.4 percent from 2008, according to a new forecast from eMarketer.

The forecast says that if the recession ends this year, as many economists expect, online sales will begin to rebound in 2010 and hit double digit growth by 2011.

“Everyone focuses on the downturn in the overall economy, but the recession has only accentuated the gradual decline in online sales growth over the past few years-the decline would likely have occurred even in normal economic times,” says Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, Retail E-Commerce Forecast: Cautious Optimism.

“It’s just simple math: The bigger online sales become, the harder it is to maintain high levels of growth.”

Increased spending by existing online buyers is the key to continued ecommerce growth. About 152 million individuals ages 14 and above will shop online in 2009.

“That means almost nine out of 10 Internet users will browse, research or compare products online this year,” says Mr. Grau. “This rate will grow slightly by 2013, since most Internet users predisposed to online shopping will already be doing it.”

Forrester Research estimated that store sales influenced by online research are higher than retail ecommerce sales. For 2009, projected cross-channel sales are $758.8 billion, while online sales will reach $235.4 billion.