Online sales could reach $96 billion this year, a 26 percent increase from last year. The figure is based on online transactions from Internet retailers, brick-and-mortar retailers and catalog companies, according to the report, released Thursday, from Shop.org, a division of the National Retailing Federation.
The pace of e-tail growth, however, is slowing. Last year, online retail sales reached $76 billion, up 48 percent from the previous year.
"There are maturing categories like computers, travel and tickets. They already have a high penetration rate in their categories for overall retail sales, so the room for growth is not as great," said Scott Silverman, executive director of Shop.org. "But there are plenty of other categories that will grow."
Last year, online retail sales in seven out of 15 product categories accounted for 5 percent or more of the $2.07 trillion in total retail spending. And this year, that figure is expected to increase to 9 categories out of 15, Silverman said. It is estimated that retail sales this year could reach $2.13 trillion.
In the computer hardware and software category, 34 percent is expected to come from online transactions. Sales of all online tickets, including travel, events and movies, are expected to capture 20 percent of all ticket sales, while 15 percent of all book sales are anticipated to be online, according to the study.
"The feeling here at Shop.org is online sales of computer hardware and software, as well as tickets, could eventually grow to be as much as half of all (ticket, computer hardware and software) sales," Silverman said.
Meanwhile, online sales in the travel category, toys and games, consumer electronics, music and videos, gifts and luxury goods are each forecast to account for 5 percent or more of total sales this year in their respective categories, the study says.
"It's not just that transactions are occurring online, but what's also important is the impact the Internet is having on the overall shopping experience," Silverman said. "Retailers are increasingly realizing this and getting a glimmer of multichannel retailing nirvana."