January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Study Tracks Dip in Online Shoppers

As e-retailers tighten up on free shipping offers, fewer online users are shopping on the Web, according to a report by Greenfield Online, Wilton, Conn. Of 3,000 online users surveyed by the firm, 78% say they shop on the Internet and 70% made purchases in the first quarter, compared to year-ago results of 86% and 74% respectively. Still, the percentage of consumers who plan to shop online dropped only 1% from last year's results.

What's more, some online shopping categories continue to show gains. For example, 44% are bidding at online auctions, up from 40% last year. In addition, 43% of consumers preferred shopping at sites with offline stores. The most popular online purchases are changing, too. Health and beauty products displaced computer hardware among the five most popular items purchased online, suggesting that more women are beginning to shop at electronic storefronts. Overall, Greenfield's findings show more men than women shopping online. The ratio is 71% male to 68% female, up from 77% male and 70% female last year.

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