January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

AT&T Survey Indicates More Online Holiday Shopping

This holiday season, consumers' expectations will be higher than ever when they shop on the web, according to an AT&T; survey. However, the research also shows many web businesses may not be prepared to meet those expectations.

In polling the top management at 150 e-retailers and comparing their thoughts with those of 600 consumers, AT&T; found that 97% of the consumers who shopped online during the 1999 holiday season expect to shop online in the coming season. Among consumers who did not shop online in 1999, half plan to give it a try during the 2000 holiday season.

Before logging on to begin their 2000 holiday shopping, consumers have a wish list of expectations for web businesses. For example, consumers' desire to have their financial information be secure on the web still exists. More than three-fourths of respondents say their concern about the security of their personal and financial information affects their willingness to shop online. Half of the respondents say businesses should build web sites that are more user-friendly. Consumers want faster download times, web sites that don't crash during peak times, and a better sense of where on the Internet to find who's selling what. Consumers also want web businesses to ensure that products are in stock and delivered on time. And they want web sites to create a festive holiday shopping experience.

When senior decision-makers at online retailers were asked to review their performance during the 1999 holiday season, they gave themselves fairly low scores -- only two out of five rate their season as "very successful." And one quarter of businesses say last year's holiday season was "not at all successful."

When consumers were asked what they liked about shopping in a bricks and mortar store, 44% mentioned that shopping in a "real" store puts them in the holiday spirit, and 42% liked taking advantage of the holiday

For copies of the research, contact brunod@att.com. The Holiday E-xpectations: Business and Consumer Perspectives on Online Shopping During the Holiday Season study was directed by AT&T; Brand Management and Customer Intelligence. Consumer respondents were recruited through an online solicitation posted at random intervals on the AT&T; WorldNet Service home page during June and July. Nearly all who participated are AT&T; WorldNet Service subscribers. Business leaders were interviewed by telephone. These business leaders represented a broad range of revenue levels and retail niches, including gifts, clothing, home and garden, electronics, sporting goods and music.

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