January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Holiday retail sales could double this year

Worldwide holiday shopping on the Internet will reach $19 billion this year, nearly twice last year's $10.5 billion, according to the latest survey from Gartner Group Inc., a leading Internet research company. Gartner warns that the growth in shopping will put additional demands on retailers in ways that they may not anticipate. "In an effort to avoid stock outages, and long delivery times, consumers are likely to shop earlier as they shop more in 2000," says Robert Labatt, principal analyst for Gartner's e-Business Services. "Retailers have learned their lesson, too: They have spent the year implementing real time inventory systems and are motivating consumers to shop earlier in an effort to deliver the best shopping experience possible to consumers and their children." The growth is partly the result of the increase in Internet access and in consumers' comfort level with shopping online. "Explosive Internet access growth over the last two years, particularly in regions beyond North America, means that many Internet users are now familiar enough with the medium to make online purchases," says Astrid Van Dorst, senior analyst for Gartner's e-Business Services. "We've witnessed strong demand for Western goods by the affluent in Asia and support by governments, retail banks, card companies and national portals." North America will continue to account for more than half of online holiday sales this year. Europe is projected to grow 96%; Asia/Pacific 91%; Japan, 180%; and the rest of the world, 200%.

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