• November 19, 2001

October Online Sales Slow; Holiday Pickup Expected: Studies

Online-shopping revenue appeared to dip in October, according to the results of an ongoing study of connected consumers in the U.S. But on the bright side, a separate survey suggested that some 90 percent of shoppers have yet to finish their holiday-season gift-buying.

The drop in online shopping last month was reported today by Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, whose monthly tally showed sales at $3.6 billion, down from $4.0 billion in September.

The Forrester Online Retail Index, compiled with the help of the pollsters at Greenfield Online, calculated that 13.7 million U.S. consumers shopped online in October, down from 15.2 million in the previous month.

"Great deals - like zero-percent financing - in the brick-and-mortar world lured consumers back to the malls after a slow September, but they decreased their use of the Web to make purchases," Forrester analyst Christopher Kelley said in a prepared statement. "And, while they were out buying a car that they won't have to pay for until next year, it was also convenient to pick up a sweater and CD that they might otherwise have bought online."

Meanwhile, another barometer for online shopping, the Nielsen/NetRatings Holiday eCommerce Index, revealed today that visits to e-commerce Web sites increased 14 percent during the second week of November. NetRatings said today that the increase "(signaled) the beginning of the online holiday shopping season."

NetRatings reported that 39 percent of Americans shopped online over the past week, with 67 percent saying that they were enticed by bargain prices.

The researchers said 59 percent of connected consumers interviewed said they shopped online because of the broad product selection, but 26 percent also said that shipping fees for items bought online continue to be a factor in purchasing decisions.

"E-tailers offering free shipping promotions and competitive pricing have much to gain from luring price-conscious shoppers," NetRatings' Sean Kaldor said. "Holiday shoppers feeling the effects of the slowing economy this season are watching their budgets and looking for the perfect gift with the right price."

NetRatings, which teams with Goldman Sachs and Harris Interactive for another profile of e-commerce activity called the eSpending Report, also reported that just 11 percent of online shoppers surveyed said they had completed their holiday-season shopping by Nov. 9.

Some 55 percent said they had yet to start shopping, while nearly 35 percent said they had begun the hunt for presents, but were not yet done.




--Reported By Steven Bonisteel, Newsbytes.com, http://www.newsbytes.com .

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