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Investors: Follow the Shoppers to Online Retail

Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet...

Retail sales rose more than expected in February, as people apparently spent snow days shopping online. E-commerce sales rose 0.11 percent compared to February, significantly outpacing the other 12 categories tracked by the Commerce Department.

Statisticians at the Commerce Department sum the 13 separate categories to determine a total growth rate for U.S. retail sales each month. Not only was e-commerce in February the fastest growing category, it was also the single largest contributor to growth. E-commerce accounted for 41 percent of the overall increase.

Retail specialist Mortimer Singer, president of Marvin Taub Associates, reminded us this morning on Surveillance that Macy's Inc. (M ) now employs 700 engineers focused on digital expansion. With more people buying online, we want to buy online retailers.

There are 22 e-commerce companies in the Russell 3000 Index . Since all are forecast to grow sales this year based on analyst estimates tracked by Bloomberg, we ranked them according to which will likely grow the most.

We shared the top five on-air:

Blog readers may be curious to note several additional companies forecast to grow sales this year: Amazon (AMZN ), 20 percent; Expedia (EXPD ), 17 percent; Shutterfly (SFLY ), 17 percent; Nutrisystem (NTRI ), 13 percent.

To quote Mr. Singer once again, "Mobile allows retailers to juice more of the lemon." We'll take the lemonade and go right to the e-tailers.

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