Live from NRF: 2009 Online Sales Grew 18%

When merchants look back at 2009, they may not see many bright spots. But the growth on online as a retail channel was enough to clear away some clouds.

Speaking at the National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention and Expo on Monday, Forrester Research vice president/senior analyst Sucharita Mulpuru said merchants adapted to the evolving consumer.

Based on Forrester’s figures, the online channel grew 18% year over year vs. 2008.

And those numbers rose as the year progressed, Mulpuru said. Online sales reported to Forrester grew 11% in the first quarter of 2009, 12% in the second, 16% in the third and 26% in the fourth.

Also in the third quarter, 79% of multichannel merchants said they saw growth in their online channel. What’s more, 87% of merchants polled by Forrester said their e-commerce channels were profitable in 2008 vs. 57% in 2007.

The biggest reason for online growth, according to consumers surveyed, was convenience. While 54% of consumers polled by Forrester last year said they shop online for bargains, 64% said e-commerce saved them time.

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