Online sales grew by more than 30% in the fourth quarter, but store sales slid by 6.1% year over year.
Despite the numerous challenges online merchants faced in the past year, consumers will continue to shift their holiday shopping online. Such spending this year will reach $12 billion, of which $9 billion will be retail, says a report out toady from Jupiter Communications Inc.. "While Wall Street's love affair with the online retail sector has ended, consumers continue to spend more money online, which will drive impressive sales gains," Ken Cassar, analyst with Jupiter, said in a prepared statement accompanying release of the figures. The expected online holiday shopping will be 66% above the $7 billion generated during the 1999 holiday season. Online retail sales will account for $9 billion, and travel products such as airline and hotel reservations will account for the remaining $3 billion. Jupiter attributes the continued growth to two factors: online shoppers spending a larger share of their holiday budget with online merchants; and 6 million Internet users who will make their first online purchase during the 2000 holiday season, driven by a need for convenience and increasing confidence in the channel.