November 5, 2008

Internet Boosts Retailers’ Holiday Sales

Internet shopping may be the one bright spot for U.S. retailers this holiday season, a marketing analyst said.

The Internet is "the only place where you can go for an optimistic outlook," Nita Rollins of Resource Interactive told USA Today.

Forester Research said Internet sales will grow 12 percent during the holiday shopping season, but store sales are expected to increase just 2.2 percent, the National Retail Federation predicts.

"The brick-and-mortar retailers who haven't made online a priority are going to be most challenged this holiday," said Matt Poepsel at Gomez, a Web site monitoring firm.

"If their attention wasn't on the Web before, it certainly is now," he said.

Apparel may be a case in point. While Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic turned in a combined double digit drop in sales in September, Internet sales at Gap Inc. grew 50 percent from 2005 through 2007.

Online sales at the Gap are expected to top $1 billion this year, accounting for 6 percent of its total sales, the newspaper said.