November 14, 2003, 12:00 AM

WalMart.com projects 60% growth in holiday sales

Wal-Mart Stores expects sales at its WalMart.com during this year’s holiday shopping season to rise 60% over last year’s holiday season, the company says. Comparable store sales are expected to rise 3-5%.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

 

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. expects sales at its WalMart.com during this year’s holiday shopping season to rise 60% over last year’s holiday season, far outpacing expected growth for comparable store sales of 3-5%, the company says.

That compares to a 42% increase in retail industry online holiday sales projected by Forrester Research. “As consumers intensify and diversify their online spending, online holiday sales will rise 42% over last year to $12.2 billion this year,” says Forrester analyst Carrie Johnson. “The mainstreaming of e-commerce will again force online retailers to compete with stores by offering free shipping.”

In its continuing effort to consider new services, meantime, WalMart.com is evaluating whether to join the ranks of retail web sites offering online sales of digital music. “We’re evaluating it at this time,” a spokeswoman says, declining to offer more details.

Wal-Mart doesn’t break out online and offline sales. It reported net sales for the third quarter ended Oct. 31 of $62.5 billion, up 13.3% from $55.2 billion in the year-ago period.

In an earnings conference call yesterday, president and CEO H. Lee Scott noted that shoppers are showing caution in their spending. “We are still seeing cautious customers who are buying at the opening price points and who are timing their spending around receipt of their paychecks, indicating liquidity issues,” he said.

Scott noted that Wal-Mart is already seeing strong sales of toys, which he attributed to an early start to holiday shopping.

 

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