RealTime IT News

Back-to-School Spending Perks Up the E-Tail World

Driven by back-to-school spending on everything from clothes to computers, online retail sales increased from an estimated $4 billion in July to $4.2 billion in August, according to new survey results.

Fifteen million households shopped online in August, said the survey for the NRF/Forrester Online Retail Index. The index was developed by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Forrester Research Inc. in conjunction with Greenfield Online Inc.

"Apparel and footwear were among two of the largest-growing small-item categories in August, which we attribute to school starting up again," said David M. Cooperstein, research director at Forrester. "On the other hand, online sales of sporting goods, tools and hardware, and garden supplies all decreased from July to August -- summer is clearly over."

Spending on apparel and footwear rose collectively from an estimated $215 million in July to $249 million in August. Music was the low-priced, small-ticket category that experienced the greatest growth -- a 14 percent increase from July to August, from $125 million to $142 million. Spending on linens/home dicor also experienced a significant increase of 19 percent from July to August, to $66 million.

Online sales increased in six out of nine big-ticket categories. Computer hardware led the way, experiencing an increase from an estimated $377 million in July to $431 million in August. Appliances experienced the biggest dip, with sales dropping from $50 million in July to $19 million in August.

The index measures, on a monthly basis, the growth and seasonality of online shopping and is based on data collected from 5,000 online shoppers during the first 10 business days of the month from an online panel developed by Greenfield Online. The monthly panel is weighted to Forrester Research's Benchmark Panel to demographically represent the North American population.