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One Retail Sector Defies Sluggish Economy

As murky as the consumer picture is now, there is one spot on retail landscape that is still shining bright: online sales.

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Shop.org and Forrester Research surveyed retailers about their gross online sales, and found that second-quarter Web sales were up about 15.1 percent from the same period a year ago, and nearly half of those who responded said their growth was more than 10 percent.

Although this study doesn't shed any light on whether these online sales are cannibalizing purchases that would otherwise be rung up in stores, it does show that retail Web sites continue to grow in importance.

Underscoring this point, the National Retail Federation's back-to-school survey, which was released earlier today, found that 30.8 percent of parents plan to shop online this year.

Part of this shift is being driven by shoppers looking to find the best price on the items they are buying as online shopping makes it easy to compare prices or download coupons.

"Many of today's shoppers are smarter than any other generation before them, especially when it comes to finding the best price," said Phil Rist, executive vice president, Strategic Initiatives, at BIGresearch.

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com