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RealTime IT News

Early Online Shopping Numbers Show Big Gains

The 2003 holiday shopping season proved to be a boon for online retailers with shoppers spending $13 billion just between Nov. 1 and Dec. 12 alone.

Online shoppers spent $2.95 billion during the second week in December, an increase of 48 percent from 2002, according to a report from Goldman, Sachs & Co., Harris Interactive., and Nielsen/NetRatings. That report brings the total spent online, excluding travel, to $13 billion this holiday season, an increase of 46 percent over last year.

''This season we are seeing a continuing trend of consumers deciding that shopping online is the way to go,'' says Lori Iventosch-James, director of e-commerce research at Harris Interactive. ''The increased reliance on Internet retailers is having a noticeable impact on traditional retail outlets. With extended shipping deadlines from online retailers, we expect this trend to continue as people want to avoid the late shopping crowds.''

The eSpending Report also shows that shoppers spent more of their gift budgets with retailers' online channels than ever before

Through the week of December 12, shoppers spent 21 percent of their 2003 holiday budget online, up from 16 percent in 2002. Shoppers reported that they had expected to spend 72.9 percent of their budget at brick and mortar stores in 2003, down from 76.8 percent last year.

And shoppers weren't just buying books. The report shows that they were going online for everything from apparel to electronics, software and DVDs.

The video and DVD category showed the strongest growth. That sector brought in $1.2 billion, an 89 percent increase over the year before. The clothing and apparel category pulled in $2.5 billion by Dec. 12. That's a 35 percent increase over 2002. Toys and video games rose to $1.6 billion in online spending in the same six-week period, a jump of 27 percent over the previous year.

''Online retailers have seen a strong season so far,'' says Abha Bhagat, a senior analyst at Nielsen/NetRatings. ''The higher levels of customer satisfaction and increased consumer spending online point to the fact that the online channel is no longer a disruptive technology medium but another mainstream channel through which retailers reach out to customers.''