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Online Sales Expected to Rise 17%

New York Online spending is expected to rise a robust 17% this year, despite a sluggish economy that has bruised many brick-based retailers, according to an annual survey released Tuesday.

Online retail sales, excluding travel purchases, are set to grow to $204 billion in 2008 from $174.5 billion last year, fueled by sales of apparel, computers and autos, according to a survey conducted by Internet-analysis firm Forrester Research for Shop.org, the online arm of the National Retail Federation trade group. That projection is below the 21% increase seen in the prior year, but industry officials attribute it to the maturing of the business, not the sluggish economy.

E-commerce "is clearly the bright spot in retailing," said Scott Silverman, executive director of Shop.org.

According to the Associated Press, the upbeat report contrasts with the outlook for many traditional retailers that have been struggling amid the sluggish economy.

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