The survey, conducted by Forrester Research, reports that 72% of online retailers believe that the online channel "is better suited to withstand an economic slowdown than offline channels," with 35% predicting that their business will beat expectations in the year ahead. And 33% say they expect results to be in line with their forecasts. (Some 37% concede that they have lowered their expectations for online sales to adjust to the weaker economy.)
Certainly, they expect sales to grow at a slower pace than in years past, due to dwindling consumer confidence and credit issues. But the survey finds that they are quite bullish on their own ability to prosper, even in an economy that's battering brick-and-mortar stores: 81% say their online business was profitable in 2007, and 75% say it was more profitable last year than the year before. That said, the survey also found concerns that being sensitive to consumers' worries, which may require them to lower prices and entice shoppers with free or reduced-price shipping, may eat into profitability this year.
"Although the online sales growth rate will be lower than in years past because of working against all of retail, the good news is that this growth will still outpace nearly every other sector of consumer spending," the report says.