January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Sales Surge More Than 100% for Some E-Retailers

Don Davis

Editor in Chief

Gains in 1999 holiday sales are exceeding 100% at a quarter of Internet stores surveyed last week, while half pegged their increases at more than 60% over last year.
     Overall, 29% of 50 online retail executives polled by International Data Corp, Framingham, Mass., say holiday sales are exceeding their expectations. More than half described this year's sales as consistent with their forecasts.
     On the flip side, some e-retailers are beginning to show signs of a shakeout, says IDC. They include 10% who conceded that their sales were "very much below expectations" and 16% who describe holiday sales as flat over last year. These reports tend to come from smaller and less capitalized Web merchants, according to IDC.
     IDC says its findings also show that retailers are doing a better job of supporting increasingly knowledgeable Internet customers. Yet it cited continuing problems: A quarter of e-retailers report minor difficulty in processing orders and answering phone calls to service centers. Another 29% acknowledge that new customers have had difficulty with the design and layout of their sites, and 6% say new interactive features are not working as expected.
     Nearly a third report that traffic jams are occasionally overwhelming their servers, causing delays. And 6% say they're seeing a higher-than-usual number of abandoned shopping carts.

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