The boom in online sales is not letting up. First quarter online sales this year were up 27% over first quarter last year, which themselves were up 26% over a year earlier, comScore Networks Inc. reports. Online retail sales reached $19.16 billion in Q1, up from $15 billion in Q1 2004.
Total retail sales are also off to a strong start, although not as strong as last year`s start, according to the National Retail Federation. They were up 5.4% in Q1 this year over Q1 2004 vs. an 8.8% increase in Q1 last year. The NRF has broadened its definition of retail sales to include what`s known as "GAFS sales" (general merchandise, clothing and clothing accessories, furniture and home furnishings, electronics and appliances, and sporting goods, hobbies, books and music) as well as sales at such venues as food and beverage stores, building materials stores, office supply stores, florists and others.
The NRF predicts retail sales will grow 4.8% this year compared to 7% last year. Consumers cannot continue their spending pace, says NRF chief economist Rosalind Wells. "Consumers will be stretched thin from rising interest rates, high energy prices, and modest gains in employment and income," she says.