Survey News: Online Sales Vault 48%; Online Profitability Also Improves

, the online retail unit of the National Retail Federation reports that despite a lackluster 2002 for retailers, online retail sales jumped 48% to $76 billion. In its annual survey of more than 130 retailers, conducted by Forrester Research, the study also shows that in comparison to 2001 when 56% of respondents reported positive operating margins, 70% reported such gains for 2002.

Overall, retailers broke even in sales for ’02, compared to a 6% loss in ’01. Equally encouraging, the study also showed that retailers overall picked up 40% new customers online to their overall databases.

Looking ahead, the study forecasts online retail sales to grow 26% this year to $96 billion; seven product categories are expected to grow more than 40%. Further, online sales as a percentage of total retail sales are expected to reach 4.5%, compared to 3.6% in ’02.