RealTime IT News

Santa, Be Good to Me!

Global online sales for the upcoming holiday season, spurred by "explosive" growth in Net access, are predicted to reach $19.5 billion in 2000, says a new industry report, an 85 percent increase over last year's estimates.

The forecast report from research and consulting company Gartner Group Inc. said that last year's online holiday sales reached an estimated $10.5 billion worldwide.

"Explosive Internet access growth over the last two years, particularly in regions beyond North America, means that many Internet users are now familiar enough with the medium to make online purchases," said Astrid Van Dorst, senior analyst for Gartner's e-Business Services. "We've witnessed strong demand for Western goods by the affluent in Asia and support by governments, retail banks, card companies and national portals to 'Webify' their countries."

The good news for American e-tailers is that North America will continue to account for more than half of online holiday sales this year, Gartner said, growing at a rate of about 70 percent year over year.

Other regions are gaining market share, too. Sales in Europe and the Asia/Pacific regions are projected to grow 96 and 91 percent, respectively, while sales in Japan are predicted to grow by more than 180 percent.

Not only are shoppers going to spend more, but also they are going to start earlier, the report says.

During the holiday season last year, many Internet retailers were not prepared for the large number of shoppers, so some Web sites had difficulties fulfilling orders in time for the holidays. Gartner analysts said Internet users and Internet retailers both learned from lessons last year to better prepare for this holiday season.

"In an effort to avoid stock outages, and long delivery times, consumers are likely to shop earlier as they shop more in 2000," said Robert Labatt, principal analyst for Gartner's e-Business Services. "Retailers have learned their lesson, too: They have spent the year implementing real time inventory systems and are motivating consumers to shop earlier in an effort to deliver the best shopping experience possible"

Gartner's e-Business Services unit provides senior executives, strategic planners and investors with research and analysis on electronic commerce and Internet marketplaces.