EMarketer: E-Commerce to Grow 29% in Q4

Consumer confidence is down and unemployment is staying up, but eMarketer's "Retail Industry Online" report forecasts continued e-commerce growth this year.

EMarketer projects that fourth-quarter consumer spending online this year will rise 29 percent to $17.8 billion, its highest growth rate since the 2000 holiday season, when it increased 71.5 percent over that period in 1999. Fourth-quarter consumer spending climbed 16.7 percent in 2001 and 27.6 percent in 2002.

Other findings from the report:

· U.S. online retail sales (not including travel) will reach $55 billion in 2003, rising to $72.6 billion in 2004.

· 81.2 million Americans will buy online in 2003, rising to 86.5 million in 2004.

· The proportion of U.S. online retailers reporting positive operating margins climbed from 56 percent in 2001 to 70 percent in 2002.

· Top online stores among U.S. Internet users in terms of traffic include Amazon.com, walmart.com, Target, JC Penney and sears.com.

· U.S. retailers' leading reasons for investing in IT include reducing costs (23.4 percent), improving processes (20.7 percent) and increasing profit (19.3 percent).

· 31 percent of North American retailers expect their company's IT spending to stay flat in 2004; 30 percent expect a 1 percent to 5 percent increase; 29 percent expect an increase of at least 5 percent; and only 11 percent expect a decrease.

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