January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

The Numbers Keep Showing That Online Shopping Is Catching On

Actual buying online is growing at a faster clip than online window-shopping, according to the latest Greenfield Online Digital Consumerú Shopping Index, a national benchmarking study that samples 2,400 online Americans on a quarterly basis. Nearly three-fourths of people on the Internet today have made purchases, and more than half have done so at least three times.
     Participation in online auctions has grown by nearly 10 percentage points since last August (40% now versus 31% then). And online stock trading is growing faster than online banking, though twice as many people are banking online than trading. Some 12% of those online are currently processing online stock, bond or mutual fund transactions, while 25% are doing online banking. But investing activity has increased by 25% in the same period. Data collected in March shows Internet browsing and purchasing trends have increased steadily over a 12-month period, with actual percentage shown in the table below:

----nested table--------

  April '98 August '98 November '98 March '99
Shopped online 62% 80% 82% 86%
Bought online 47% 63% 65% 74%
-------end table--------

Computer software, airline tickets and books remain at the top of the most shopped for (browsing but no transaction) items this quarter. Here is what online shoppers say they shopped for online in the 90 days prior to completing the survey in March compared to the same question last quarter:

----nested table--------

  March '99 November '98 Point Change
Computer software 35% 32% +3
Airline tickets 35% 28% +7
Books 34% 30% +4
CDs 32% 26% +6
Computer hardware 31% 26% +5
-------end table--------

Here is what online shoppers say they purchased online in the 90 days prior to completing the survey in March compared to the same question one quarter earlier:

----nested table--------

  March '99 November '98 Point Change
Books 26% 19% +7
CDs 24% 18% +6
Computer Software 21% 19% +2
Computer Hardware 14% 13% +1
Airline Tickets 11% 8% +3
-------end table--------

Interestingly, there is a division among the sexes in shopping: The top item men shop for online is computer items, while books are the number one item for women.

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