European online retail sales are expected to hit €191 billion ($249 billion USD) in 2017, up from €112 billion ($146 billion USD) in 2012, according to new data published today by Forrester.

The forecast, which looks at 17 countries across Europe, estimates an 11 percent compound annual growth rate, fueled by the usual advantages of shopping online, such as saving time, money and finding products that simply aren’t available offline.

Despite their poor economic outlook at the moment, Forrester predicts that much of this growth will be attributed to Spain and Italy. Spain is expected to hit €9.1 billion in 2017, equal to 18 percent annual growth, while Italy will rise to €8.3 billion, with 16 percent growth.

The UK is on the lower end with 10 percent yearly growth, although it’s important to note that it’s starting from a base of €40.1 billion in 2012 – a total sales figure more than ten times higher than that found in Italy or Spain.

figure2 730x435 Forrester: Europes online retail sales to grow 70% to €191bn by 2017, with Spain seeing most growth

“Although far from the saturation point, the UK in particular has passed beyond the boom years and local retailers must invest in optimization and innovation to stay competitive,” a spokesperson for Forrester said.

The independent technology and market research company has also predicted that by 2017, more than half of all money spent on music and DVDs will be online. In addition, over a quarter of all book purchases will also be made over the Internet.

That’s not entirely surprising. The demise of HMV in the UK, for example, has meant that there are now few, if any high street chains selling physical records. Aside from independent record stores, almost all music purchases are being made either through online stores such as Amazon, or through digital distribution services such as iTunes.

Groceries, while not the most exciting goods, are also expected to be a huge earner for online retail stores. Forrester says that by 2017, shoppers across Europe will spend nearly €10 billion online for food and drink.

This trend is being accelerated by supermarkets such as Carrefour in France, which is integrating NFC-enabled mobile kiosks into its physical stores – thereby providing a link between its online and brick-and-mortar offerings.

A report detailing Forrester’s research also shows that by 2017, online retail will represent 15 percent of the UK’s economy, up from 13 percent in 2013. Germany, meanwhile, rises to 10 percent – up from 7 percent – and both France and the Netherlands will hit 7 percent in the next four years.

“As wallet share shifts gradually to the Web, eCommerce will naturally come to be regarded as more and more critical to national economies,” Martin Gill, Forrester Principal Analyst said.

Image Credit: ALEXANDER KLEIN/AFP/GettyImages