While the U.S. economy is still puttering through a recession, a new marketing study from the National Retail Federation’s Shop.org and Forrester Research found that at least some online retailers have been able to take greater marketshare in the last few months. About 46% of the 117 retailers polled in this study also said that they had no plans to scale back their original budgets for 2009, though 54% of all respondents expect their overall growth to slow during the next 12 months. Over the last few months, shoppers have become increasingly price-sensitive, and this has clearly helped some online retailers to outperform their brick-and-mortar competitors.

While some online retailers might be weathering the economic downturn better than their competitors at the local mall, 30% of the respondents also said that they would cut spending on their web retail operations this year. Among those who are planning to cut costs, 88% say that they will scale back their hiring plans.

Email Marketing a Top Priority

Those companies that are seeing the current downturn as a chance to expand and that are planning to spend more on their online efforts this year, say that they will focus their investments on search (80%), email (65%), and social marketing (60%). According to this report, these businesses see email as one of the most important means to communicate with their customers and most plan to use it to inform customers of new product launches, promotions, and to get customer feedback. 90% of all respondents listed a focus on email marketing as a top priority.

Companies Won’t Scale Back Social Media Campaigns

Interestingly, the study also found that those companies that are growing faster than expected during this downturn are also more likely to embrace social media. Even those companies that are planning to scale back their online operations this year still plan to experiment with social media campaigns.

Imaged used courtesy of Flickr user jakerome.