SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.–Online retail sales could rise 17 percent this year to $204 billion, according to a report issued this morning by Forrester Research.
In its 11th annual survey, the firm said that although Web-based retailing faces many of the same challenges experienced by traditional stores, such as a worsening economy, higher shipping costs and changes in consumer behavior, the channel remains highly resilient.
The projected increase in online sales is “a testament to the value and convenience” of the channel for many consumers, according to Scott Silverman, executive director of Shop.org, the trade group of online retailers for which the study was conducted.
Apparel, computers and autos are expected to be the largest sales categories.
Because most retailers believe that search-engine marketing is “the most effective way to reach new customers,” almost all use pay-for-performance search placement, Forrester said in a statement. In addition, catalogs and other direct mailings will take priority over television and newspaper advertising to drive consumers to Web sites.
In a notable change this year, online retailers are said to be “less interested” in offering free shipping to consumers.