• January 3, 2002

Columbia House Tops Holiday Shopping List

The Nielsen//NetRatings Holiday eCommerce Index revealed the fastest growing e-tailers for the 2001 holiday season, led by value-oriented sites. Entertainment giant Columbia House came in on top of the list with more than 25 million shopping trips at the site in November and December 2001, surging 219 percent since 2000. FingerHut.com, a catalog-style retailer know for extending credit options to its customers, followed with a 144 percent jump to land eight million visits, while Overstock.com grew 107 percent to nearly 13 million, posting triple-digit gains, according to NetRatings.

Traffic to consumer electronics and PC manufacturers also grew, as sites such as Apple.com, BestBuy.com, HP.com, and staples.com attracted more shopping visits during the 2001 online holiday season. Meanwhile, Amazon.com continued to be a popular destination among e-shoppers, drawing 49 percent more visits during the holidays.

"Despite their already large market share, Amazon.com continues to exceed overall industry growth, further solidifying their leadership position. In terms of sheer size, more shopping was conducted at Amazon.com than the other nine fastest growing e-tailers this holiday season," said Sean Kaldor, vice president of analytical services at NetRatings, in a prepared statement.

Climbing 19 percent during the week ending November 11, computer hardware was the first category to peak, while consumer electronics and shopping aggregators increased 91 percent and 76 percent, respectively, during the week ending December 2. Specialty gifts was the final category to experience marked growth, taking a 198 percent leap during the week ending December 23, says NetRatings.

"Traffic to specialty gifts nearly tripled right before the Christmas holiday, as last-minute shoppers scrambled to find that perfect gift, whereas big-ticket items such as computer hardware and consumer electronics saw a rush of surfers earlier on in the season," continued Kaldor. The jumps in online-shopping traffic coincide with a recent destinationCRM.com poll, where more than one-third of the participants said they do at least some of their holiday shopping online. That group was followed closely by 26.4 percent who said that they did most of their holiday shopping online, taking advantage of free shipping and lower prices, while 25.3 percent said they did no holiday shopping online, opting instead for face-to-face service. The remaining 17.2 percent claim to have done all of their holiday shopping through e-tailers.

2001's after-Christmas shopping also showed healthier signs than 2000's. NetRatings reports that online shopping is tapering off much slower this year than last, declining 16 percent for the week ending December 30, 2001 compared to 27 percent for the same week in 2000.

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