Growth For E-Commerce Promises Recovery For In-Store Retail

By April 01, 2010

This year will be the first of double-digit growth after dismal 2008 and 2009, says eMarketer in their new report, US Retail E-Commerce Forecast: Room to Grow. Based off of US Census Bureau data, eMarketer projects that retail for

2010 in the United states will climb to over $152 billion, up 12.7 percent from last year. Online sales in the fourth quarter of 2009 grew by 14.6 percent from 2008.

Growth will continue into 2011, while the economy continues to recover and consumers begin to spend more, says Jeffrey Grau, report author and senior analyst at eMarketer. "But by 2012, e-commerce will resume its pre-recessionary downward growth path because of the inevitable maturation of the online sales channel," he continues.

162 million people will research products online this year, and much of this research will lead to in-store purchases. But over 82 percent of online researchers, 133 million people, will be online buyers. This already high number will rise as young Internet users replace older users. These younger consumers are more used to e-commerce and have a much higher adoption rate.

One of the covered e-commerce categories is retail, excluding travel, digital downloads and event tickets. This category is tracked to grow from $132.3 billion in 2008 to a projected $223.9 billion in 2014. As for online travel, 2008 saw $94.7 billion in sales, counting online leisure and unmanaged business travel sales. A rising category, travel's growth is a nine percent compound annual rate from 2009 to 2014.

But the Internet is stronger at promoting retail through research rather than sales. “The Internet’s 7.7% share of total retail sales pales in comparison to its influence on store sales,” says Grau. Consumers honed their Web research skills by searching for coupons, comparing prices and focusing on getting the exact product that they need. Instead of going back to their old habits, Grau predicts, the public will keep using these tactics to save money even when the economy improves.

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