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Forrester: Holiday e-commerce growth to slow

But on the bright side for online retailers, more people say high gas prices and better online deals may cause them to do their holiday shopping on the Web.

Online retail growth will slow for the first time this holiday season as a result of the weak economy, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

The market research firm estimates that $44 billion will be spent online by consumers during the holiday season; that's up 12 percent from last year, but it's the slowest rate of growth for online retail to date.

It's important to note that the Forrester report refers specifically to e-commerce, not to the hordes of people who show up at Best Buy at 5 a.m. for Black Friday deals. But the slowed growth probably is more reflective of the economy in general, not of an aversion to shopping on the Web--that's because Forrester also found that a weak economy gives incentives to shop online.

For example, 48 percent of those surveyed said they believe that they could find better deals on the Web versus in stores, up from 41 percent last year. And 36 percent said high gas prices would induce them to shop online, up from 22 percent in 2007.