December 8, 2003, 12:00 AM

Online retailers’ optimism grows with sales

Sales increased at least 25% at more than half of e-retailers over Thanksgiving weekend vs. a year ago, says Shop.org/BizRate study. The survey was baked up by comScore numbers, which showed online sales for the week ending Nov. 30 up 25% vs. year ago.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

More than half of online retailers saw sales increases of at least 25% over the weekend following Thanksgiving vs. the same weekend a year ago, the eHoliday Mood Study by Shop.org and BizRate.com reports. Those increases made online merchants more optimistic about the outcome of the holiday shopping season, with 71% saying they are optimistic vs. 67% two weeks ago.

Shop.org’s survey findings were baked up by the latest comScore Networks Inc. numbers, which showed that online sales for the week ending Nov. 30--the week that included the traditional start of the holiday shopping season--grew 25% to $1.26 billion from $1.01 billion for the corresponding week a year ago.

Online travel sales for the same week were up 11% to $612 million from $553 million, comScore reports.

The Shop.org/BizRate study also surveyed consumer attitudes about shopping online. It reports that 50% of consumers are using the web to research products, then buy them either in a store or through a catalog. 45% of consumers research gift purchases in stores and catalogs and then purchase them online.

The study also evaluates the success of online retailers’ marketing efforts. Free shipping with conditions gained in strength as the most successful tool in driving holiday business; 44% of retailers listed it as their most effective marketing promotion, an increase of seven percent over two weeks ago.

In addition the 50% who research online and buy offline, the study reports that 39% buy in-store at the same retailer where they researched the product, 22% buy in-store at a different retailer, 8% buy via catalog at the same retailer and 4% via catalog at a different retailer.

Consumers rank the following online promotions the most effective:
Free ship with conditions 44%
Free ship no conditions 19%
Early shopper discount 17%
Online only sale 17%
Offline-online sale 15%
Other marketing promotion 11%
None 11%
Free gift with purchase 9%
Repeat-buyer discount 5%
First-time buyer discount 4%
Purchase with purchase 4%
Buy some get some free 2%
Rebate 2%
Tax free promotion 1%

The Shop.org/BizRate.com 2003 eHoliday Mood Study polled 1,252 online buyers and more than 80 online retailers, all members of Shop.org, Dec. 1 and 2.

 

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