December 4, 2001, 12:00 AM

More evidence of strong consumer interest in online holiday shopping

By the week after Thanksgiving, over 80% of Internet users who had started their holiday gift shopping had shopped online vs. 78% at the same time last year, reports consultants Retail Forward.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

Another survey of Internet users reports that online shopping and purchasing activity is off to a strong start this holiday season. By the week after Thanksgiving, over 80% of Internet users who had started their holiday gift shopping had shopped online, up slightly from 78% at the same time last year, reports Columbus, OH-based consultants Retail Forward Inc. Furthermore, 56% of early gift purchasers had already made a purchase from an online shopping site, up from 52% a year ago.

“Online shopping sites are attracting more online shoppers and purchasers this holiday season and are poised to increase their share of holiday sales,” says Mary Brett Whitfield, director of Retail Forward`s E-Retail Intelligence Program.

The ability to shop anytime tops the list of reasons why Internet users have done some of their holiday shopping online, cited by 84%. Only 5% of Internet users are shopping online because of concerns about their personal safety at shopping malls.

Top reasons they are shopping online:
Can shop anytime: 84%
Easier than shopping at stores or with via catalogs: 65%
Dislike dealing with holiday crowds at malls and stores: 62%
Access to products, brands, stores not available where I live or work: 45%
Received special promotion to purchase online: 38%.

In addition, more consumers are using the online channel to buy than are using it simply for research for offline purchases. Nearly 30% of online shoppers report their primary use of online shopping sites this holiday season will be to purchase products shopped for or found online, while only 17% think their primary use will be to research products. “More online shoppers are using online shopping sites as they were originally intended – to shop for and purchase products – instead of as an information resource,” Whitfield says.




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