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Yahoo! Targets Holiday Stragglers

In an effort to capture last minute shopping stragglers for the holiday season, Yahoo! cast its net today in the form of a Last Minute Gift Center.

The site is a spin-off from Yahoo!'s Shopping Gift Center, which maintains affiliations with more than 13,000 retail partners.

This year marks the third year Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo! has opened the site on Dec. 12 in an effort to capture the business of those desperate few (or many) who have left their Christmas shopping to the last minute and need a wealth of gift ideas and a fast way to get the merchandise under the Christmas tree or menorah.

According to Yahoo! representative Stephanie Iwamasa, during the last two weeks of the holiday shopping crunch in 2001, the Last Minute Gift site saw "a three-fold surge in sales," particularly during the six days leading up to Christmas.

"We don't typically see a dramatic drop-off until the 23rd," said Iwamasa. "By the 24th, we see a lot of flowers and gift cards being sent, which usually can be ordered and delivered on the same day."

Yahoo!'s strategy is directly in line with a boom in online shopping, which according to Internet research firm BizRate.com has been breaking all previous online shopping records.

Yesterday alone, online shopping revenues were reported at $356 million dollars, making it the third largest sales day of the year to date, according to BizRate. That figure represents a 7.4 percent increase over the same day last week.

From Nov. 1 to Dec. 10, 2002, sales grew to $8.73 billion, up from $6.11 billion from the previous year, marking a 43 percent increase, says BizRate.

"In years past, it was thought that consumers would stop ordering gifts online after a certain date due to shipment and delivery concerns, but shopping online has prevailed as one of the easiest ways to shop for the holidays, especially when time is of the essence," said Niki Pandey, director of production for Yahoo! Shopping.

According to Yahoo!, the site will be updated on a daily basis, and will only feature links to merchants who are able to deliver products or gift certificates before or on Dec. 25.

As Christmas draws closer, those merchants that cannot guarantee delivery on time, will expire and drop off the site, said Iwamasa.

Merchants featured on the site include Barnes and Noble, Crate & Barrel, Godiva, LL Bean, Macy's, Pottery Barn, Tower Records, and Victoria Secret.