Signs of an improving economy and increased consumer spending on nontraditional online product categories like apparel, home décor, and sporting goods have catapulted 2003 US online sales. According to Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR), US online sales for 2003 will reach more than $100 billion, with online holiday sales from Thanksgiving to Christmas growing by 42 percent over last year to $12.2 billion.

“In addition to spending more money, consumers have begun to diversify their online spending habits this year. That’s the good news for online retailers,” said Carrie A. Johnson, senior analyst at Forrester. “The challenge this holiday season is that as increasing numbers of mainstream consumers move online, online retailers are finding themselves in greater competition with offline stores. To keep shoppers enticed, online merchants must continue to respond with promotions like free shipping and in-store pickup.”

Additionally, many online retailers are offering free shipping this season, because consumers continue to put it on the top of their shopping wish lists. Retailers are making efforts to stimulate sales and limit redemption of these promotions by attaching purchase minimums to their policies. In an effort to appeal to online shoppers, Forrester recommends that retailers prominently display delivery deadlines and shipping promotions on their home pages.

The research mentioned in this press release is available to Forrester WholeView™ clients and can be found through