January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

And in another survey of online shoppers E

About 20% of the U.S. population, or 55 million people, are expected to visit online shopping sites from home this holiday season, according to Nielsen/NetRatings' newly released report on the upcoming holiday season 2000. In the last year, 14 million more shoppers have gone online. In August 2000, 146 million people had access to the Web, a 35% increase from last year, creating an even larger customer base for e-retailers. The average time spent per person online has grown nearly 15% from 27 minutes to 31 minutes during the same time period. "It will be the ultimate challenge for e-retailers to turn surfers into spenders as more surfers go online for longer periods of time," said Sean Kaldor, vice president of eCommerce at NetRatings, Inc. According to Nielsen/NetRatings, the online sector poised for the highest growth this holiday season is toys. Nielsen/NetRatings projects 10 million people will shop online for toys in December. These figures show a 270% projected growth from last year's holiday season. There is also a key shift in web audience demographics. Last year females made up 36% of all shoppers; this year they are 58%.

Table 1. Nielsen/NetRatings Category Projected Growth for Holiday Season 2000 (Home)
Category Percent Growth
Toys/Games/Entertainment 270%
Consumer Electronics 109%
Books/Video/Music 65%
Apparel/Accessories/Shoes 61%
Virtual Department Stores 51%

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