RealTime IT News

Gas Prices Fueling Online Holiday Outlook

Signs continue to point to a healthy holiday season this year, as reports on eSpending suggest good times for online sales are right around the corner.

The fifth annual Holiday eSpending Report, issued jointly by Goldman, Sachs, Nielsen//NetRatings and Harris Interactive and scheduled to be conducted and released weekly throughout November and December, is expected to show continued news of robust online shopping.

The growth will be partially aided by rising gas and heating prices, as consumers seek to maximize their holiday budgets, according to analysts conducting the report.

"From a historical perspective, it will be interesting to see if this coming season's research will show a dramatic shift in the holiday gift budget designated for online purchases," Karen Chiarelli, vice president of Technology Research at Harris Interactive, said in the report.

"Each year has seen the addition of more tenured shoppers and improved consumer satisfaction, which stands to increase again this year."

The biggest gainers will be computers and consumer electronics, as shoppers utilize comparison shopping tools to price the latest must-have gadgets, toys and games, according to the analysts.

During the 2004 holiday season, shoppers spent a record $23.2 billion online, excluding travel, representing 25 percent year-over-year growth, according to the report. More than a third, or 37 percent, of online consumers claimed to be satisfied with last year's online shopping experience, and 30 percent said it was better than the previous year.

Those consumers last year spent the most during the holidays on apparel, which recorded a record high of $3.8 billion, or 16 percent of total online revenue.

Toys and video games followed with $2.5 billion, or 11 percent of total online revenue. Consumer electronics purchases also enjoyed a solid season, with online shoppers spending $2.3 billion to garner 10 percent of total online revenue.

Sales are expected to exceed those numbers this season, according to the report.

The eSpending Report provides weekly insights into the online holiday shopping season by examining dollar spending by market segment, as well as tracking consumer attitudes and motivations driving online shopping behavior.

Another report released earlier this month also suggests a banner holiday season. Forrester Research has predicted online sales increases of up to 25 percent over last year, hitting a record high of $18 billion.