December 10, 2008, 12:00 AM

Shoppers less happy with retail sites in week after Thanksgiving this year

ForeSee Results’ Holiday Satisfaction Benchmark study finds post-Thanksgiving deals are meeting online shoppers’ expectations.

Satisfaction levels for online shoppers on the Monday after Thanksgiving were down 1% compared to last year. But satisfaction for that day was higher than any day in November, and satisfaction levels for the following week held relatively steady, according to ForeSee Results’ Holiday Satisfaction Benchmark study.

The average online shopper satisfaction for the Monday after Thanksgiving was 75.9 out of a possible 100 points compared to 76.9 for last year. Average satisfaction for the week after the holiday this year averaged 75.6.

The study of 250,000 online shoppers tracks online customer satisfaction with top retailers though the holiday season. It uses the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) developed by the University of Michigan, which predicts online and offline purchase intent among consumers, as well as loyalty and recommendations.

Shoppers said they were less satisfied with elements of web sites ranging from navigation to pricing on the Monday after Thanksgiving this year compared to last. They also indicated they were less willing to purchase online or offline on that day than they were last year.

Contrasting shopper satisfaction on the Monday after Thanksgiving with scores from the previous month, found online customer satisfaction higher on that day than at any point in November, including over the Thanksgiving weekend. Normally, the reverse is true, with shopper satisfaction declining on that Monday as online shoppers fail to find the deep discounts and free shipping offers they expect, according to ForeSee Results.

“It seems for the first time, retailers have finally met customer expectations for sales and promotions with all of the well-publicized deals that were available Monday, says Larry Freed, ForeSee Results CEO. “Whether or not they can continue to use these techniques to satisfy customers while still remaining profitable remains to be seen.”

Customer satisfaction with online prices is down slightly from the levels for the weekend after Thanksgiving, given a drop-off in extreme discounts and promotions offered that weekend, the study found. And, while satisfaction with site performance dipped the Monday after Thanksgiving, due to high traffic levels, it quickly returned to previous levels of satisfaction as traffic stabilized, according to the study.

“Maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction throughout the holiday shopping period will separate the companies who are able not only to survive this year, but to thrive, from those that will be closing their doors in January,” Freed says.

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