Online retail sales in the US are likely to reach $204 billion this year, despite the gloomy economic atmosphere, a new report has forecast.

A study conducted by Forrester Research and has revealed that Americans are likely to continue using the web to buy clothing, computers and cars, causing the online retail industry to grow by 17 per cent compared to 2007.

Scott Silverman, executive director of, commented that online retailers are not immune to the economic slowdown but appear to be more resilient as a result of the value and convenience offered.

"Retailers report that search engine marketing continues to be the most effective way to reach new customers, citing 35 percent of sales coming from that initiative," the study continued.

According to analysis firm Jupiter Research, US small businesses alone are expected to spend more than $70 billion online by 2012, compared to $47 billion in 2006.