Online Shopping Getting Crowded

Approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population, or 55 million people, are
expected to visit online shopping sites from home this holiday season, says a
newly released industry report. And for many, toy e-tailers will be their
first destination.


All told, about 14 million more shoppers will be going online this year
compared to last year, according to the report from Web measurement firm
Nielsen//NetRatings.


And the numbers are such that dot com e-tailers will face fierce competition
for the hearts and wallets of all those online shoppers from leading off-line
brick and mortar companies making their debut online during the holidays, the
report says.


“Holiday season 2000 will be the revenge of the brick and mortars,” said Sean
Kaldor, vice president of e-commerce at NetRatings. “Battle lines are being
drawn between the off-line brick and mortar stores and the Internet
pure-plays. Off-line giants such as
Old Navy, Kmart, and BestBuy, all of which had little or no Web presence last
year, are poised for extraordinary growth during this holiday season. The
biggest question is, will these companies be able to survive the intense
infrastructure issues that plagued many companies last year?”


In August 2000, 146 million people had access to the Web, a 35 percent
increase from last year, creating an even larger customer base for e-tailers,
according to NetRatings. And the average time spent per person online has
grown nearly 15 percent from 27 minutes to 31 minutes during the same time
period.


“It will be the ultimate challenge for e-tailers to turn surfers into
spenders as more surfers go online for longer periods of time,” said Kaldor.


The online sector poised for the highest growth this holiday season is toys,
said NetRatings, which projects 10 million people will shop online for toys
in December. These figures show a 270 percent projected growth from last
year’s holiday season.


Last holiday season, eToys was the definitive winner in the toy category with
more than four million visitors in November 1999 and almost 4.7 million in
December 1999, compared to Toys R Us numbers at 3.5 million and 3.4 million,
respectively, NetRatings said.


“Although eToys brought home the holiday gold last year, Toys R Us is poised
to raise the bar with its recent partnership with Amazon.com,” said Kaldor.
“Amazon.com has a unique online presence that hasn’t been matched by any
other e-tailer.”


Projected growth in other categories includes consumer electronics, up 109
percent; books/music/video, up 65 percent; apparel/accessories/shoes, up 61
percent; and virtual department stores in general, up 51 percent.


Nielsen//NetRatings is the audience measurement service from Nielsen Media
Research and NetRatings Inc.

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