Online Shopping Dominated by…Clothes?

The face of online commerce is changing, and its increasingly moving away from computers, gadgets, and technology and towards the mainstay of shopping malls and retaiers the world over: clothes.

According to Forrester Research report “The State of Retailing Online 2007,” Americans put more of their online dollars into clothing than into computers during 2006. According to the report, footwear, accessories, and apparel notched up $18.3 billion dollars in online sales during 2006, with that number expected to increase to $22.1 billion in 2007. In comparison, computer hardware and software garnered a mere $17.2 billion in online sales during 2006, barely beating out auto parts ($16.7 billion) and home furnishings ($10 billion).

“Apparel retailers have overcome a number of hurdles to encourage shoppers to buy clothing and accessories online,” said Scott Silverman,’s executive director. “Retailers are doing such a great job online that in some cases it’s easier to find and buy clothing on the Web than it is in a store.”

During 2006, online sales roe by 25 percent to a total of $219.9 billion; if the travel market is excluded, the number is $146.5 billion, which represents a 29 percent growth over the year before. For 2007, the total online shopping market is expected to reach $259.1 billion; without the travel market, that number is expected to be $174.5 billion. The report also finds that profitability throughout the online retail sector is stabilizing, with 83 percent of respondents reporting profitability in their online retail efforts, and 78 percent saying they were more profitable than they were in 2005.

“As consumers flood the Web to purchase merchandise and research products, online retail is moving full-speed ahead,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, lead author of the report. “This strong growth is an indicator that online retail is years away from reaching a point of saturation.”

If the online clothing sector thinks it has it made…just wait until fast food on the Web really starts to take off.

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