December 12, 2003, 12:00 AM

A scientific measure of the benefits of online shopping, from a trade group

Thumping the tub in the U.K. for online shopping, trade association the Interactive Media in Retail Group reports the results of an experiment that sent two sisters on Christmas shopping expeditions, one online and the other offline.

Thumping the tub in the U.K. for online shopping, trade association the Interactive Media in Retail Group reports the results of an experiment that sent two sisters on Christmas shopping expeditions, one online and the other offline.

The trade group operates the web site E-Christmas.com to promote online shopping. As part of that promotional effort, Royal Mail, a sponsor of E-Christmas.com, recruited two sisters from Essex to participate in a test to determine exactly how much more convenient and less stressful online shopping is over store shopping.

The two were instructed to find gifts suitable for husband, mother, sister, nephew and a child`s toy. To judge how stressful each shopping experience was, their heart rates were taken at various stages of the experiment. The sister who went to the high street--as Main Street is known in the U.K.--took four hours to complete her Christmas shopping trip, including driving and visiting four parking lots before finding a space. Her heart rate started at 69, rose to 138 while shopping, and was 79 when she got home, “tired and cold, with sore feet,” the report added.

The sister who shopped online took 36 minutes to do her similar Christmas shopping, including logging on and off the Internet. Her heart rate started at 66 and didn`t rise above 67. A press release from the trade group announcing the results reported that she commented: "The kids always want to be involved, I just put them on my lap and started browsing. Everything was delivered to my home, so no aching arms and I didn`t have to drag the children around the shops, which is just too stressful."

The trade association also reported that online shopping in the U.K. grew 44% in November over November last year, reaching £1.175 billion. The group estimates that online spending amounts to 7% of all U.K. retail sales.

 

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