Holiday E-Sales to Hit $10 Billion

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Online sales will cross $10 billion this fourth quarter, aided by first-time Internet shoppers and the large number of traditional retailers debuting e-commerce businesses, according to a new Holiday Forecast 2000 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

"Sales will hinge on how well e-retailers prepare themselves for the onslaught following last year's failure by many sites to deliver in time for Christmas," said Carl Steidtmann, director and chief retail economist at PwC.

Despite the anticipated strong sales, the report said online retail will comprise only 1.2 percent of total retail sales in the fourth quarter.

Traditional retail this holiday season vs. last year's fourth quarter may witness a slowdown, the PwC forecast said. The retail sector is expected to grow only 4.5 percent this fourth quarter, down from 8.4 percent in 1999.

"This slower pace of retail activity is due in large part to the growing impact of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, a slowdown in home-building and refinancing, and higher fuel factors, among others," Steidtmann said.

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