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Holiday E-tail Increase Uncertain

September 27, 2000|LESLIE EARNEST

While there's still much uncertainty swirling about how well retailers will fare in the coming holiday shopping season, research groups have begun making predictions about how much Internet shoppers will spend in November and December.

Jupiter Communications predicts online sales will grow to $11.6 billion this season, while Forrester Research Inc. said Internet shoppers will spend $10 billion. The two groups even differ about what was spent during last year's holiday season: Jupiter said it was $7 billion; Forrester said it was $5 billion.

John Konarski, a spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers, said it's too early to accurately project how much money shoppers will shell out online or in brick-and-mortar stores.

"We've got an election to go through, and who knows what could happen with the economy," Konarski said. "I just think there's a lot of wild cards out there."

Ultimately, e-tailing's success will depend on whether Internet retailers can overcome two challenges that plagued them last year: attracting enough customers and then figuring out how to make them happy, said Kurt Barnard, publisher of Barnard's Weekly Retail Marketing Report.

"Nobody, absolutely nobody at this point, fully understands the impact of e-commerce," he said.

Leslie Earnest covers retail businesses for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-7832 and at

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