Capturing Holiday Digital Dollars

Consumers will continue to fill shopping carts online in 2002 as GartnerG2, a research service of Gartner, Inc., indicates that almost all (98 percent) of those who bought holiday gifts online in 2001 plan to do so again this year, and findings from Nielsen//NetRatings suggest that virtual department stores will get the bulk of those visits.

Nielsen//NetRatings found that more than 35.5 million U.S. Internet users made shopping trips to virtual department store sites during the week ending November 3, 2002 — that’s a 20 percent increase from the week ending October 20 and roughly 14 million more than almost the same time period in 2001.

Along with virtual department stores, Nielsen//NetRatings measured considerable Internet traffic at sites devoted to books, music and video (almost 7 million), consumer electronics (5.2 million), apparel (4.6 million), and toys and games (more than 4 million).

Reading, watching, and listening were also popular for the respondents to a Ipsos-Reid for the Business Software Alliance (BSA) poll. Nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of the more than 1,000 Internet users that were surveyed said that they plan to purchase a gift online this holiday season, and topping the list are books or videos (65 percent), followed by music CDs (53 percent), clothing or accessories (46 percent), and computer hardware or software (35 percent).

The research firm also found that 93 percent of all Internet users have made a purchase online and those expected to increase their online shopping are 18-to-34 year old college educated users with annual incomes above $50,000.

InsightExpress conducted a survey during early November 2002 to determine what Internet shoppers are likely to buy during the upcoming holiday season:

Likelihood of Purchasing Certain Holiday Gift Items
Adult clothing 53%
Toys 49%
Books 46%
Music-related items 43%
Consumer electronics 40%
Clothing for children 36%
Home decor items 32%
Food gifts 31%
Appliances 7%
Automobile & related 5%
Source: InsightExpress

Meanwhile, a AOL/RoperASW Cyberstudy survey of 1,001 Internet users conducted during early Fall 2002 found that 60 percent make online purchases regularly or occasionally — double the number who did just four years ago — and 73 percent of online shoppers say they have purchased presents online in the past, with 47 percent saying they do so regularly or occasionally.

The AOL study found the following items to be among the e-commerce leaders: clothing/apparel (36 percent); computer hardware/software (32 percent); auctions (24 percent); concert or movie tickets (28 percent); CDs/DVDs (27 percent). Less popular were book downloads (10 percent); home-delivered groceries (4 percent); stamps (2 percent); and pet food (2 percent).

Where the Internet may prove to be more valuable to some consumers is in researching products. More than three-quarters (77 percent) say they use online resources to gather information before making a purchase.

According to AOL, the Internet was the top ranking source for shopping research on travel (71 percent), software (46 percent), tickets for entertainment events (44 percent), computer hardware/software (40 percent), books (39 percent), investments (37 percent), automobiles (35 percent), electronic equipment (34 percent), videos/DVDs (28 percent), and video games (27 percent).

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