Over the last week or so, a number of firms have published scary headlines and stats like, “Retail E-Commerce Growth Drops Sharply”. We agree that it is a tough market all around and that the 12% growth rate we project for this holiday season is not what we might have projected had the economy not tanked. Today the Census Bureau’s estat numbers for 3rd quarter 2008 online sales came out at only a 5% growth over last year. Not great and reflective of the very soft back to school season and all the uncertainly in the financial, housing, international and political markets. But also not the sole number to rely on. And, 3rd quarter is does not project fourth quarter directly and we do expect much stronger growth for the remaining holiday season. Online is still a good deal livelier than what we are hearing from offline sources. So, we still expect to see growth at the 12% rate this holiday season.

Don’t let’s let the news that is clearly trying for attention rather than realism sway us to alarmist reactions. For example, according to Hitwise traffic data- the share of traffic to retail sites is about where it was last year – so you could interpret that as no growth. But, reality says that other categories like News and Media and Financial have increased their share -due to the election and the economy mostly – that would affect the share of other categories -remember these are share numbers not total numbers. So, looking beyond the headline to what is real will help us not panic and to stay focused on getting the job we know how to do done.