February 2, 2001, 12:00 AM

Last year`s fulfillment problems didn`t hurt this year`s online retail sales

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Retailers shouldn’t expect consumers to take to last-minute shopping on the web. “You’re not going to change people from being last-minute shoppers in the real world to start thinking of last-minute shopping on the Internet as being Dec. 15 or Dec. 18,” he says. So in coming years, online retailers may have to adjust their projections so as not to expect too much from the final week of holiday shopping. “It’s just not going to happen,” Okamura says.

He notes, however, that most e-retailers should get credit this year for communicating to their customers the deadline for orders that they wanted to receive before Christmas.

The end of the holiday shopping season this year revealed an interesting new way in which online retailing is reflecting offline. Many e-retailers conducted after-Christmas sales and, just like in the real world, their sales were strong.

San Francisco-based Alexa Research, a web intelligence and traffic measurement service that is a subsidiary of Amazon.com, reports that the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day was e-retailing’s third busiest week of the fourth quarter. Alexa reports that consumers downloaded 1.86 billion web pages during the last week in December, up from 1.66 billion the week before Christmas. Clothing sites, department stores and home sites in particular experienced major traffic. Retailers that showed an increase in page views included Jcrew.com, Bluefly.com, BananaRepublic.com, JCPenney.com, Sears.com, CrateandBarrel.com, Cooking.com and Pier1.com.

Goldman Sachs/PC Data report that computer hardware, apparel, home and garden supplies and game software were the most popular items the week after Christmas. PC Data says that shows further that online shopping is mirroring real-world shopping-people are buying items online at the same time of year that they are buying them offline. In the case of game software, it’s probably kids spending their Christmas money-just like in the real world.

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