The combination of the economic slowdown and the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks will hold down individual consumer online spending
this holiday shopping season, but according to a new forecast, an
increase in the overall Internet population will translate into an
increase in total e-commerce spending.
The holiday shopping forecast by Jupiter Media Metrix [NASDAQ:JMXI]
predicts consumers will spend a record $11.9 billion online for retail and
travel purchases this season - which it defines as November and December.
Spending for the 2001 season is expected to be 11 percent higher than
the 2000 total of $10.8 billion. Jupiter Media Metrix analyst Rob Leathern
said the 1999 holiday season brought in $7 billion, while the 1998 period
totaled $3.1 billion.
"Our research shows average spending per consumer will be $258 this year,
compared to $300 per buyer last year," said Leathern.
The overall Internet population has grown from 125 million a year ago to
142 million this year, and the number of online shoppers has jumped from
36 million to 46.2 million, he said.
"Putting those figures together, 33 percent of the online population will
be shopping this holiday season, compared to 29 percent last year. There
is a bigger group willing to give their credit card numbers and other
information to online merchants," he added.
The Jupiter Media Metrix study found that only 14 percent of those who
plan to purchase holiday gifts online in the next two months intend to
spend less than 10 percent of their budget on e-commerce. That figure is
down slightly from 18 percent last year and 61 percent in 1999.
According to Leathern, when people first try online shopping, they tend
to purchase a single item as a sort of "test."
"That is how consumers build trust," he said. "They are dipping their toe
into the water, as it were. Now, more people are comfortable with online
shopping, and they are making big-ticket purchases and sending gifts to
people. They are spending more of their budget online."
The study said the Sept. 11 attacks will have a "net zero impact" on online
retailers this year. Due to travel fears, fewer Americans will fly, and
airport security restrictions will limit the number of packages people
will carry with them on planes. Because of those factors, Jupiter Media
Metrix predicts more shoppers will turn to e-commerce and catalog sales.
The increase in the number of shoppers is balanced, however, by reduced
holiday shopping budgets, the study added.
For the first time, the number of women shopping online will exceed the
number of men, Jupiter Media Metrix said.
The study predicts women will total 53 percent of the online holiday buying
population. The average spending per male will remain higher because men
tend to make purchases in larger ticket categories such as consumer
electronics and PCs, but women as a group will spend more than men.
Leathern said studies show women and men increasingly look at online
shopping in the same way, as the reasons the two genders cite for shopping
on the Web merge.
"With women, there is a slightly higher stated preference for avoiding
crowds in malls, and a few more men than women say they shop online because
they are looking for better prices, but overall, the differences between
genders are small," he said.
Jupiter Media Metrix expects many of the same categories that were popular
last year with online shoppers to be big again this holiday season,
books, clothing and shoes, music, toys, and videos.
The one category that is expected to draw fewer shoppers is computers and
accessories. While 24 percent of last year's shoppers said they would
one or more computer-related items during the online holiday shopping
only 18 percent said they will this year.
Leathern said part of this decrease can be explained by the fact that the
overall Internet population has increased, and no longer is the exclusive
domain of techies.
"The Internet population still is a more affluent group than the general
population, but it is becoming more reflective of the overall population,"
he said. "The net worth of online households is 25 percent higher than the
overall average, but it used to be much higher."
As people become more at ease with online shopping, consumers will be
apparel online in larger numbers than in years past, Leathern said.
Jupiter Media Metrix: www.jmm.com .
--Reported By Michael Bartlett, Newsbytes.com, http://www.newsbytes.com .