RealTime IT News

Online Shoppers: Early and Often

Two market research firms released studies this week showing that online shoppers logged on early -- and often -- to do their gift shopping.

The Monday after Thanksgiving was the peak for traffic to e-commerce sites, while 54 percent of consumers had completed their online purchases by December 16, the companies said.

Cyber Monday, the back-to-work day following Thanksgiving, follows "Black Friday," the day when stores typically make their biggest holiday sales. It was the highest traffic day for e-commerce sites, according to Coremetrics, a provider of Web analytics and marketing software.

However, Coremetrics said, online sales peaked the Monday after, on December 5th. In general, the research company saw increased browsing and purchases on Mondays, compared to other days of the week.

"Data revealing spikes in online activity on Mondays this holiday season also signifies a pattern in consumer behavior of 'window shopping' offline during the weekend and purchasing the week day following," said Joe Davis, president and CEO of Coremetrics, in a statement.

Coremetrics said the November 28 traffic peak reflected consumers' use of the Internet to research products. It said the December 5 peak in sales showed online shoppers have gotten the message about leaving enough time for shipping.

Meanwhile, the Goldman, Sachs, Nielsen//NetRatings and Harris Interactive's Holiday eSpending Report found that more than half of online shoppers finished their holiday shopping by Dec. 16, versus the 37 percent of early-birds who had crossed of their lists by Dec. 9th.

On the other hand, 10 percent hadn't even started their online browsing, the report said.

Early online shopping bucks the trend of consumers delaying their online purchases later and later, according to Heather Dougherty, senior retail analyst for Nielsen//NetRatings. She said offers such as guaranteed delivery by Dec. 24 and additional discounts and incentives, show that online retailers don't let up until right before Christmas, hoping to capture as many sales as possible before the most dilatory consumers head to the shopping mall.

The eSpending Report found that the holiday spending total reached $25 billion, excluding travel, during the first seven weeks of the 2005 holiday season, between October 29 and December 16, a 25 percent increase over last year.

Goldman, Sachs et al. said consumers spent the most online for clothing this season, with sales totaling $4.7 billion, or 17 percent of total online revenue. Next up were computer hardware and peripherals, followed by consumer electronics, with sales of $3.7 billion each.