• November 30, 2001

In Lean Times, Consumers Buy Online: Reports

U.S. consumers spent an estimated $16.3 billion online during the third quarter of this year, according to Internet measurement firm NetRatings, which said Wednesday that the figure represents a 60 percent increase over the $10.3 billion spent in the same period a year ago.

Meanwhile, ComScore Networks reported Wednesday that shoppers forged the busiest day for e-commerce this year on Monday, with a single- day total of $220 million in purchases.

"While the Friday following Thanksgiving is traditionally the day to watch in the offline world, it's the following Monday - when people return to work and are able to use their company's high-speed Internet connection - that really waves the starting flag for Holiday e-commerce," said Dan Hess, a vice president with Reston, Va.-based ComScore. "As we expected, Monday's online sales actually exceeded those of the entire weekend, and were dramatically higher than the post-Thanksgiving Friday."

NetRatings, reporting on the results of its Nielsen/NetRatings and Harris Interactive eCommercePulse surveys, said that the travel sector was the online-sales leader during the third quarter, accounting for nearly $4.3 billion of all spending. However, more than two-thirds of the quarter's shopping days were already history when terrorist attacks in the U.S. also slammed the travel industry.

ComScore said that its single-day tally for Nov. 26 saw travel- related sales total $65 million, which it estimated was about average for all Mondays since April of this year (but not counting those in September).

Monday's spending on non-travel items totaled approximately $156 million, up dramatically from an average Monday haul of $87 million, ComScore said.

NetRatings, of Milpitas, Calif., said the $4.3 billion in online travel spending during the third quarter was an increase of 53 percent over the same period a year ago.

Clothing and apparel garnered $1.5 billion during the quarter, up 77 percent, while online auctions claimed $1.2 billion, up 94 percent, NetRatings said.

"Building on a growing number of online users, increased likelihood of shopping, and higher average spending, e-commerce continues to post solid year-over-year gains," Sean Kaldor, vice president of analytical services at NetRatings, said in a prepared statement. "Posting 60 percent growth in the face of a challenging economy is a remarkable achievement, and key categories such as apparel and auctions were critical to that success."



--Reported by Steven Bonisteel, Newsbytes.com, www.newsbytes.com .

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