September 23, 2003, 12:00 AM

More back-to-school shopping going online, new survey shows

57% of shoppers polled by Feedback Research went online to buy books and 35% did so for apparel. 65% preferred in-store sales over online--but that`s down from 72% last year.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

 

Online marketing company Gator Corp.’s Feedback Research found the web is getting more of shopper’s spending–-and looking–-in back-to-school purchases. Feedback monitored actual online traffic from Gator’s 35 million users from Aug. 15 to Sept. 24 in the book and apparel categories, focusing on traffic to back-to-school- oriented sites including JCPenney.com, Gap.com, OldNavy.com, Target.com, and WalMart.com. The research company also surveyed these consumers to find out how they were shopping for back-to-school.

The survey revealed that online shopping is gaining, with 57% of those polled buying or planning to buy books or textbooks online, vs. 45% at the same time last year. In addition, 35% of shoppers, up from 27% last year, planned to purchase apparel online for the 2003 back-to-school season. 57% of those surveyed said they spent or were planning to spend $100 or more in both the book and the apparel categories, vs. 38% last year for books and 40% for apparel.

The survey also captured the web’s cross-channel effect. 71% of student households reported turning to the Internet this year before purchasing books at store locations or through catalogs, as did 41% of those planning apparel purchases.

Amazon.com was the hands-down winner for researching or purchasing books, with 43% of all category visitors reporting they’d visited Amazon. Barnes and Noble’s site came in second in the category, receiving visits from 35% of those surveyed. The web sites of Gap and Old Navy led the way for apparel merchants, getting visits from 22% and 25% of category shoppers, respectively.

Store shopping still leads as the number one method of buying books, with 65% of those surveyed reporting they’d selected store shopping versus going online. However, Feedback Research notes, that number is down from 72% last year.

 

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