Up, up and away: Ecommerce, which generated $231 billion in sales for U.S. retailers last year, is expected to increase 13% to $262 billion this year, according to forecasts technology and market research firm Forrester plans to release Wednesday. The growth of ecommerce, which already accounts for about 8% of total retail sales in the U.S., is expected to outpace sales growth at bricks-and-mortar stores over the next five years, reaching $370 billion in sales by 2017. By that time, ecommerce is expected to account for a full tenth of all retail sales in the U.S.
What’s driving the growth? Forrester cites two factors. The first is proliferating use of smartphones and tablets, which are boosting the amount of time consumers spend online. More than half of U.S. online consumers now have smartphones, and they’re using them to research purchases, find stores and to find the best prices available — often completing a transaction directly on the device. Tablet owners are also spending their leisure moments (weekends, evening prime-time hours) shopping online.
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