Online sales in the third quarter spiked 37% over last year’s third quarter, reaching $10 billion, BizRate.com Inc. reported today. BizRate also projects that Q4 sales will grow at a similar rate--up 35% to $16.8 billion--while holiday-season sales (the Monday before Thanksgiving until Christmas) will rise 24% to $8 billion vs. last year’s holiday season. The lower growth for the holiday period this year is due to the late date of Thanksgiving, meaning that this year’s period will have six fewer days than last year’s.
For the first three quarters of the year, BizRate reports total online sales of $30.55 billion, up 30% from $23.45 billion in the first three quarters of last year. Online sales from Q2 to Q3 this year were virtually flat, BizRate reports, while offline sales fell by 15.7% through September, reports the National Retail Sales Estimate from ShopperTrak RCT.
BizRate obtains its numbers from monitoring sales at sites where it has contracts to conduct customer satisfaction surveys. Through those contracts, BizRate directly sees about half of all online sales. It estimates the balance of sales from public reports and its expectations of which categories will have strong sales growth online. Periodically, it adjusts its numbers based on Census Bureau surveys, which lag sales by about a quarter, to more accurately reflect the half of sales it does not see. This week, it re-stated online sales figures for Q1 and Q2 to take into account the Census Bureau reports.
BizRate, a comparison shopping and customer satisfaction rating site, surveyed 1,300 online buyers last week, and reports that 24-hour convenience is the top reason they buy online, followed by avoiding crowds, faster method of shopping, avoid driving and easier to comparison shop.
“We believe this will be a very strong holiday season because of 24x7 convenience of the web,” says Chuck Davis, CEO of BizRate. “A shortened holiday season will help the online sector significantly. In addition, the economy is still bumpy and that will drive people to more comparison shopping.”