We've been told that the Internet is the new frontier for e-commerce. Online stores are booming. Bricks-and-mortar chains are beefing up their dot-com storefronts.

Don't get too excited just yet, though. Market research giant comScore is reporting that e-tail sales grew by a mere 9% during the third quarter when pitted against last year's showing. In fact, it's been more than two years since the last time that retail e-commerce grew faster than 10%.

Put in a more sobering way, China's economy in general is growing faster than online retail.

It's a pathetic sum, and stacked on top of the 2% decline that comScore recorded for last year's third quarter, we're talking about an embarrassing 7% spurt over two years.

I'm not buying it.

When it comes to dedicated e-tailers, the growth appears to be a lot heartier than 9%. Net sales at Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) grew a scorching 39% during those same three months. Overstock.com (Nasdaq: OSTK) clocked in with a hearty 27% top-line surge.

Let's see how some of the other stand-alone online retailers are projected to growth their revenue when they report in the coming days.

  • drugstore.com (Nasdaq: DSCM): 12.4%
  • Blue Nile (Nasdaq: NILE): 7.6%
  • Vitacost.com (Nasdaq: VITC): 14.3%
  • PC Mall (Nasdaq: MALL): 16.3%
  • PC Connection (Nasdaq: PCCC): 32.3%

Outside of Blue Nile -- which naturally may be held back because of its high-end jewelry emphasis -- it seems as if everybody's growing faster than 9%. PC Mall and PC Connection also have mail-order roots which may actually be sandbagging their dot-com growth.

So what's going on here? Are the online pure plays simply growing faster than their privately held peers? Are bricks-and-mortar chains not putting enough muscle behind their online endeavors?

For investors, the real takeaway here is that comScore's data can be safely discarded. The real stars of e-tail are growing a lot faster than the market.

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.