RealTime IT News

Christmas E-tailing Shines

It's beginning to look a lot like a joyous holiday season online as the preliminary reports from pundits, prognosticators, measurers and best-guessers come rolling in after the first big shopping weekend following Thanksgiving.

The Nielsen//NetRatings Holiday eCommerce Index showed 22 percent more home Internet users engaged in online holiday shopping the day after Thanksgiving as compared to the daily average for Monday through Thursday.

Amazon claimed a majority of virtual department store shopping with 1.7 million daily unique visitors the day after Thanksgiving, increasing 33 percent, according to the Index. Wal-Mart drew 355,000 daily unique visitors, spiking 132 percent, followed by Target, which attracted 312,000 daily shoppers. The site jumped 152 percent in daily unique audience.

At one point on Friday, Amazon.com said, it was selling about 12,000 more items per hour than at the same time last year.

Online sales were bolstered by the onslaught of "must-have" Harry Potter merchandise as well as drastically declining prices for consumer electronic goods and hardware -- traditionally a staple of the online retailer.

BizRate reported that it saw 27 percent year over year Internet shopper growth for Nov. 19 through Nov. 24. The day after Thanksgiving, traditionally the heaviest shopping day of the year, showed 19 percent year over year growth, BizRate said, adding that 60 percent of the shoppers were women.

Yahoo! Inc. said its shopping channel showed an increase of more than 75 percent over the Thanksgiving Day weekend a year ago. Microsoft said the number of shoppers who visited MSN eShop during the past week increased 150 percent compared with the same week last year.

The "growth in sales points to the fact that consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with shopping on the Internet and that online shopping continues to be a compelling option for holiday shopping," said Rob Solomon, vice president and general manager of Yahoo! Shopping.

Meanwhile, a new study of online consumer attitudes from The Boston Consulting Group and Harris Interactive found that a surprising number of shoppers entered the holiday season with a "confident" frame of mind, despite the recent turmoil. Fully 37 percent of the shoppers in the survey were "confident," while only 15 percent fell into the "distressed" category. The research found the remaining 48 percent of respondents to be "recovering" from the economic downturn and the events of Sept. 11.