The cash registers will be ringing this holiday season -- in cyberspace.
Market research giant Forrester is projecting that holiday sales will grow 16% this year, double the 8% pace it had predicted a year ago. It's also more than three times greater than the 5% spurt reported during the 2008 holiday season.
In short, this is going to be the best e-tail shopping season in years.
Investors shouldn't settle for simply keeping up with the pack, though. There are plenty of online retail specialists that will likely grow considerably faster than 16%.
Last week, after Forrester peer comScore announced that e-commerce sales spiked 9% during the third quarter, I took a closer look at several companies that managed double-digit percentage gains.
Now that we have a tangible growth rate target of 16%, let's see what analysts are projecting for the top-line growth during the holiday quarter for those same seven companies with strong e-tail businesses.
(Nasdaq: AMZN): 35%
(Nasdaq: OSTK): 13%
(Nasdaq: DSCM): 10%
(Nasdaq: NILE): 6%
(Nasdaq: VITC): 14%
(Nasdaq: MALL): 9%
(Nasdaq: PCCC): 18%
Uh-oh! Whereas all but Blue Nile were on pace to surpass comScore's third-quarter projection, only Amazon and PC Connection are expected to keep up with Forrester's holiday sales e-tail goal.
Will bricks-and-mortar chains be the big winners this season, or is this simply a sobering realization that Amazon is so enormous that it carries everybody else?
I would bank on the latter before the former. Amazon is that significant, with the Prime annual loyalty club program that will keep shoppers glued to Amazon.com's page during the next several weeks.
Well-played, Amazon. You now own Christmas. Don't ruin it.
With drugstore.com reporting tonight and the others to follow, is it smart to buy into the e-tail stocks ahead of this year's holiday season? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.