But losses mount for the home furnishings e-retailer that went public in October.
The amount of online Christmas shopping this year will triple from last year's $2 billion to more than $6 billion, according to the Purdue University Retail Institute's annual retail holiday spending forecast. The tripling of online sales this holiday season only seems to overshadow the overall increase of 3% to 6% in total national holiday retail sales forecast, says institute researcher Richard A. Feinberg, professor of consumer sciences and retailing. "But the amount spent on the web is still only 2% of total retail sales," Feinberg says. "And because of very modest retail sales increases in the last year, to maintain their growth and profitability, retailers must fight for every dollar consumers spend. "
The institute also reports: -- 50% of e-retail customers this year will be women. As recently as 1998, men made 61% of online purchases. -- First-time customers will make 10% of online holiday purchases this year. -- Most Internet sales take place during the second week in December, making it difficult for e-retailers to make delivery promises. This cuts off e-retailers' access to the 30% of holiday shopping that takes place the week before Christmas.