ICS Magazine

Survey: 2002 online sales up 48 percent

May 16, 2003
WASHINGTON (AFP) – U.S. online retail sales jumped 48 percent in 2002 to 76 billion dollars despite a sluggish overall economy, according to an industry survey.

The study, conducted by Forrester Research for Shop.org, the online division of the National Retail Federation, also showed 70 percent of online retailers posted a profit last year, up from 56 percent in 2001.

Collectively, retailers broke even in online sales last year, up from a loss of six percent in 2001, according to the report.

The study projects online retail sales will grow 26 percent in 2003, to $96 billion, with seven product categories poised for more than 40 percent growth in 2003.

"In a time when the retail industry has been extremely challenged, it is encouraging to see the online channel continue to grow -- and, even better, start to make money," Forrester researcher Kate Delhagen said. "Last year was about breaking even; 2003 is about generating profits."

Certain areas are showing strong growth in online sales, the report said, noting that 32 percent of computer hardware and software was sold online last year.

Other areas of double-digit growth were tickets for events (17 percent) and books (12 percent).

Online sales are expected to reach 4.5 percent of total retail sales in 2003, up from 3.6 percent in 2002.

The survey results differ from data from the US Commerce Department, which excludes certain e-commerce sales of tickets, travel and auction goods. The Commerce Department estimated 2002 online sales at 45.6 billion dollars, or 1.4 percent of total retail sales.