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Tech Industry

Online retail sales up 26 percent

Sales grew to $11.9 billion during the first quarter, up from $9.5 billion in 2002--but it's a far cry from the growth rates seen a few years ago, when the dot-com boom was in full swing.

    Online retail sales rose 25.9 percent during the first quarter of 2003, according to a new report from the Department of Commerce.

    Sales grew to $11.9 billion during the quarter, up from $9.5 billion in the same period last year. The jump is a far cry from the 68 percent growth rates seen a few years ago, when e-commerce was just taking off and the dot-com boom was in full swing.

    Analysts, however, are expecting e-commerce sales to start growing at a faster pace than they have in recent years, when the economy started to slump and e-tailers posted quarterly growth in the neighborhood of just 13 percent.

    In a study released last week, Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation, predicted sales would rise 26 percent year over year to $96 billion in 2003.

    Shop.org said it expected e-commerce to account for 4.5 percent of retail sales this year, driven by sales of computers and tickets for travel, movies and other events.

    According to the Commerce Department report, online sales make up just 1.5 percent of all retail sales, although the rate has been climbing steadily even through the rocky economy.