January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Amazon Tops in Popularity, But Not in Average Sale

Holiday shoppers gave Amazon.com the prize for favorite site in a new national survey. But electronics giant Best Buy racked up the highest average sales.

The survey, by accounting firm Ernst & Young, New York, also found that more than a quarter of Americans made an online purchase during the holidays. And contrary to earlier polls, women outpaced men 56% to 44% in online holiday shopping.

Sites most often visited by Internet shoppers remain consistent with earlier findings, but a slightly different set of winners lines up when considering the average sale amount. For example, Amazon.com was the #1 shopping destination for 42% of online shoppers this holiday season, followed by eToys (20%), Toys R Us (19%), Barnes&Noble.com; (17%) and Buy.com (16%). Yet the top five sites by average dollar amount spent are: Best Buy ($233), Egghead.com ($217), 1800flowers.com ($173), Disney ($172) and Wal-Mart ($167).

"Whenever we ask online shoppers where they make their purchases, Amazon.com comes up again and again as #1,'' says Stephanie Shern, Ernst & Young's global director of retail and consumer products. "This new data, however, reveals that online shoppers are spending their money across a variety of online retailers and categories."

On average, online shoppers spent $1,225 on Internet purchases during the past 12 months, with 60% spending at least $500. Most (87 percent) said that the total dollar amount they spent increased over the previous 12 months, and almost all (91%) said that they would spend the same or more in the coming 12 months in online purchases.

"Given this new data, we are updating our estimate for online holiday sales in 1999 to $10 billion to $13 billion,'' says Shern. "Considering the dramatic increase in the number of Internet sites and merchandise available, plus the broad-based success among these retailers, our estimate of total revenue for calendar year 1999 remains at $25 billion to $30 billion.''

According to the study, the average amount spent on all holiday purchases was $1,080. Of these purchases, 67% were bought in stores, 7% through catalogs, and 26% percent online.

Favorites sites

1st mention Top reasons

Amazon.com
32%
Good selection 48%
Good prices 16%
Easy to use 14%
eBay
6%
Good selection 56%
Goods not available in stores 16%
Good prices 18%
Buy.com
5%
Good selection 35%
Good prices 48%
eToys
5%
Good selection 44%
Good availability of items 20%
Easy to use 11%
Barnes & Noble
5%
Good selection 52%
Easy to use 9%
Good availability of items 9%
CDNow
4%
Good selection 50%
Good prices 19%
Easy to use 14%
Toys R Us
2%
Good selection 23%
Good availability of items 18%
Good prices 23%
Ease of ordering 14%
Land's End
2%
Good selection 53%
Easy to use 16%
Brands I like 16%
Egghead.com
2%
Good selection 44%
Good prices 31%
Good availability 19%
JCPenney
2%
Good selection 40%
On-time delivery 20%
Good prices 13%
Walt Disney
2%
Good selection 43%
Easy to use 14%

Disappointing sites

1st mention Top reasons

Toys R Us
13%
Merchandise out of stock
29%
Merchandise could not be delivered
21%
Site too slow
18%
Best Buy
3%
Could not find desired goods
68%
Buy.com
3%
Merchandise out of stock 28%
Merchandise couldn't be delivered 12%
High shipping charges 12%
Poor customer service 12%
eToys 3%
Merchandise out of stock 27%
Couldn't find desired goods 22%
Site slow/difficult to use 9%
Wal-Mart
3%
Could not find desired products 48%
Merchandise out of stock 13%
Site difficult to use 13%
Prices uncompetitive 13%
JCPenney
2%
Merchandise out of stock 52%
Site too slow 14%
Could not find desired products 10%
Technical problems 10%
KBToys
2%
Merchandise out of stock 25%
Could not find desired products 25%
Technical problems 25%
Amazon.com
2%
Merchandise could not be delivered 33%
Prices not competitive 22%
Merchandise out of stock 17%
Barnes & Noble
2%
Merchandise out of stock 24%
Could not find desired products 12%
Goods could not be delivered 12%
Merchandise not priced competitively 12%
eBay
2%
Site too slow 21%
Hard to use 21%
Poor customer service 14%

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