We knew folks were shopping less in stores during this Great Recession, and now there's data suggesting that they're shopping less on the Web.
Digital marketing researcher eMarketer has downgraded its forecast for retail e-commerce sales in the U.S. this year, predicting contraction of 3.1 percent. Previously the company had predicted that retail e-commerce would essentially be flat this year, but poor sales figures recently released by both the U.S. Department of Commerce and comScore caused eMarketer to reel in its expectations further.
For years, e-commerce had exhibited fairly reliable growth, given that an increasing number of users were shifting more of their traditional shopping activities online. But during this prolonged period of economic weakness, it seems shoppers remain cautious whether on the Web or at the mall.
"While many economists see signs of an economic recovery, consumer spending online and offline is still in the doldrums, as evidenced by poor back-to-school sales," said Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer senior analyst. Grau's report cites lingering high unemployment and high gas prices as factors leading consumers to hold off on shopping.
But by 2010, growth should be back on track, according to the report, which forecasts a 5.5 percent increase in retail e-commerce next year. Growth should accelerate over the next two years before leveling off in 2013, said eMarketer.