BERLIN: The internet is expected to deliver almost a quarter of global retail sales by 2015, according to a new study.

The World Retail Congress, which holds a major annual industry event, polled 100 senior executives from chains with a turnover of at least $1bn.

In all, this group forecast that worldwide retail sales would rise by 10.2% in the next three years, with only 6% of contributors foreseeing a decline and 29% estimating revenues will stay largely static.

A 48% share of the sample thought the web would witness the strongest rate of growth in their home market, exactly the same score as posted by traditional stores.

At the international level, however, bricks and mortar outlets received 58%, and ecommerce logged 28%.

Overall, 67% of chains believe they will have "substantially" more stores in 2015. A further 90% took the view that their physical outlets "remain an important way" for customers to shop, with 76% "strongly" backing this opinion.

At present, the web delivers 13% of retail sales, a figure predicted to hit 23% by 2015, with this pace of growth essentially consistent across regions.

Looking ahead, 67% of the panel hoped to develop their online presence and 37% intended to take advantage of new technology more broadly, but just 28% are focusing on mcommerce.

When assessing confidence levels on a scale where five points marked the most optimistic standpoint and -5 points the weakest, respondents from Asia yielded 2.8 points, and their South American peers generated 2.5 points.

By contrast, the Australian firms represented provided an average of -1.3 points, reaching -1.2 points for Western Europe and -0.3 points for North America.

Currently, Western Europe is the source of 33% of sales for the corporations questioned, a total set to fall to 28% in three years time. The Middle East may also see a dip from 13% to 11% in this period.

Markets enjoying the highest growth include China, as its proportion of returns rises from 2% to 4%. South America should similarly grow from 5% to 7%, while North America remains flat on 17%.

Sectors displaying the greatest optimism incorporated food, grocery, sports and homewares, while their counterparts in the financial services, electrical and general merchandise segments all exhibited negative sentiment.

Data sourced from World Retail Congress; additional content by Warc staff