January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Big Daddy

Online sales for Father's Day 2000 totaled about $91 million, almost triple the $31.8 million from Father's Day 1999, according to Web shopping portal and online data tracker BizRate.com. Online orders reached more than 700,000, almost double last year's figures, says the Los Angeles-based firm, and the average purchase amount was $129.

BizRate.com indicates that books were the most popular gifts purchased online (22%), followed by entertainment products, including music, videos and event tickets (19%), as well as clothing. Other big-selling items for Father's Day, as well as for the coinciding graduation season, included portable electronics, which were heavily promoted by the online consumer electronics retailers.

BizRate.com computes online sales by surveying customers of more than 4,000 online merchants in its marketplace, it says. Earlier, it had forecasted sales to reach nearly $137 million, more than four times the sales from the previous year. The number of online orders was also projected to climb to 1.2 million this year, a nearly 200% increase from 432,000 last year.

"E-commerce continues to show more promise with each successive gift-giving occasion," says Chuck Davis, BizRate.com's president and chief executive officer. Other key survey findings include that online buyers plan on spending $80 on average, comparable to Mother's Day spending last month. Men plan to spend more, on average, ($90) than women ($68), and women (17%) are more likely than men (9%) to purchase clothes online for Father's Day gifts. Almost 90% of those who purchased Father's Day gifts online last year plan to do so again this summer. And while 46% of online gifts will be purchased for Dad, husbands (30%) and fathers-in-law (13%) will also receive gifts on Father's Day.

The survey also asked online buyers whom they viewed as the best representative of the "Father of the New Millennium." Some 40% voted for their own father as the ideal dad, while other favorites included Bill Cosby and Homer Simpson. Doah!

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