A 64% year-over-year fourth-quarter surge in the number of online orders, to 180 million from 110 million, drove a 22% increase in Q4 online retail sales to more than $18 billion from $15.04 billion a year ago, online shopping service and research firm BizRate.com reported. It said that Q4 online retail sales, which accounted for a third of all online retail sales for 2003, were helped by post-Christmas purchases of $880 million.
BizRate noted that total consumer spending online for 2003 reached $55.93 billion, an increase of 25% over $44.94 billion in 2002. Shoppers made 493.53 million purchases online last year, up 47% from 335.97 million in 2002, it said.
The peak online shopping day in 2003 was Dec. 9, with sales of $367.5 million, a rise of 16% from the $316.58 million in online retail sales recorded on the busiest day of 2002, Dec. 9, BizRate said. It said the second- and third-busiest days of 2003 were Dec. 15, with $358.32 million, and Dec. 10, with $357.34 million.
BizRate said 49% of online shoppers started their online shopping at an aggregator site, such as a search engine, comparison shopping site or shopping search site, and that 51% went directly to a merchant site.
It said women accounted for 62% of online Q4 purchases in 2003, up from 60% a year ago, while men accounted for 38%, down from 40% a year ago.
The most popular categories in terms of online sales volume in Q4 were computer hardware, electronics and entertainment, but the sharpest growth was in food and wine, gifts and flowers and apparel.