April 4, 2003, 12:00 AM

Q1 e-retail sales up 27% vs. year ago, BizRate reports

Online retail sales in the first quarter grew 27% vs. the first quarter last year to $12.84 billion from $10.08 billion, BizRate.com, a comparison shopping site and e-commerce research firm, reports.

Online retail sales in the first quarter grew 27% vs. the first quarter last year to $12.84 billion from $10.08 billion, BizRate.com, a comparison shopping site and e-commerce research firm, reports.

Strong year-over-year growth in January and February eased in March as the war in Iraq began, BizRate says. Online sales in January grew 31% to $4.55 billion and in February 32% to $4.14 billion. Growth slackened to 20% in March, reaching $4.15 billion. Particularly notable were Jan. 1-5, when post-holiday clearance sales generated $738.6 million, 40% higher than the same dates the previous year, BizRate says. Online sales declined March 17 and 18 by 14% and 8% vs. the same dates a year ago as war was imminent, but recovered in the first week of the war (March 20-26) and exceeded the same week last year by 20%.

“This was a planned war and therefore online retail disruption was minimized compared to the shock of September 11th, 2001, when sales dropped 37% versus the previous day,” says Chuck Davis, president & CEO of BizRate.com.

The average order in the first quarter was down 2% vs. the year before: $124 vs. $127, while the number of orders was up 30%, 103.6 million from 79.4 million. Top-selling categories were computer hardware at $3.43 billion, electronics at $2.16 billion and entertainment at $1.88 billion. The strongest growth in Q1 came from health and beauty, 61%, entertainment, 58%, and computer hardware, 41%.

BizRate bases its numbers on actual sales at 3,000 online retail sites where it has contracts to monitor traffic and projections for sites it does not monitor.

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