October 22, 2008, 12:00 AM

Lower, but still strong, growth for holiday web sales, Forrester predicts

Online retail sales this holiday season will grow 12% to $44 billion, predicts Forrester Research Inc., more than six times the growth rate of total retail sales, which the National Retail Federation projects to be 1.9%.

Online retail sales this holiday season will grow 12% to $44 billion, predicts Forrester Research Inc. While Forrester’s projected growth in online holiday sales is the slowest in the history of Internet retailing, it is still more than six times the rate of projected growth for total retail sales, which the National Retail Federation, a trade association, is pegging at 1.9%.

"While e-commerce has traditionally been resistant to negative offline trends, growing concerns about the stability of the economy are finally affecting consumers` online shopping decisions," says Forrester Research principal analyst Sucharita Mulpuru. "This is going to be a very competitive online shopping season, so retailers should take immediate steps to bolster their customer retention strategies in order to ensure repeat purchases."

More than two-thirds of consumers in the survey said they plan to spend more or about the same online as they did last year. 48%, compared with 41% in 2007, said they can find the best values and deals online. 36%, vs. 22% a year ago, said they would be more likely to shop online due to high gas prices.

The holiday forecast, "Outlook For US Online Holiday Sales, 2008," was a collaboration between Forrester Research and JupiterResearch, now a Forrester Research company. The organization conducted two surveys, the first in September, with 2,153 responses; the second in early October 2008 with 1,042 responses.

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