If you were looking for some upbeat news on the state of online retail, last week's report out of Forrester Research was a tummy-filling buffet. In surveying 150 different Web-enabled retailers, the field research specialist pegged last year's online sales at $114 billion.
That represents a 51% spike and puts a lot of last year's results into perspective. Amazon
I'm just kidding, now. A lot of the heady growth Forrester uncovered was fueled by offline companies making inroads online -- and doing so capably for a change. Let's face it, no one is going to unseat Amazon any time soon. And Overstock's 91% spurt is jaw-dropping in any kind of tailwind.
That's why it's easy to see why Amazon has soared by 228% since being singled out to members of our Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter service 20 months ago. Overstock.com has also more than doubled since being recommended last year in what's now Motley Fool Hidden Gems.
The Forrester study, commissioned by Shop.org, offers other morsels of dot-com tidings. Operating margins for online retailers came in at 21% last year after merely breaking even in 2002, with four out of every five merchants producing a profit.
Bricks-and-mortar chains are also crediting the Web for driving offline sales. While some have taken a refreshingly creative route, like Best Buy's
Going forward, Forrester sees the online realm maturing, with next year's sales pegged at just $144 billion. Still, that expected 27% jump means that online sales will continue to become a thicker slice of the retail pie. The plot, like the sticky World Wide Web, thickens.
Do you think Amazon is vulnerable? Will offline retailers gnaw away at Amazon's market share? All this and more -- in the Amazon discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been an Amazon customer since the 1990s -- but he does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.