Study: Online holiday sales to top $18 billion

Free shipping will likely entice many U.S. shoppers, despite the squeeze from higher energy costs, Forrester Research predicts.

CNET News staff
An additional 2.5 million U.S. shoppers will log on to the Net this holiday season to bring overall online sales revenue to more than $18 billion, according to a new prediction from Forrester Research.

The surge in e-commerce between Thanksgiving and Christmas will bring in 25 percent more revenue than the previous year, according to a study Forrester released Monday. Other studies have predicted higher spending this season, despite the squeeze from higher energy costs. But many brick-and-mortar retail stores are using their online channels to attract shoppers, and are offering free shipping as an added incentive.

Forrester said traditional items such as consumer electronics and toys will be popular, but apparel will also see strong numbers, as more women are now shopping for clothes online, Forrester said.

"This is shaping up as a good--not great--holiday season," Carrie Johnson, a research director at Forrester, said in a statement. "The mainstreaming of the Web means that if offline retail sales suffer, online sales do as well. The average online consumer is no longer insulated from broader economic concerns such as volatile energy prices."