March 6, 2001, 12:00 AM

College students spending more time online than before

New studies characterize college students` purchasing behaviors; predict the habits of future main street consumers.

The latest installments in the StudentWatch Campus Market Research series provide a look at where students shop, what they buy, how much they spend, and what influences their purchase decisions. More than 3,000 students participated in the three new studies. The College Stores Research and Educational Foundation, the research arm of the National Association of College Stores, sponsored the studies. Volume 8 of the series, which looked exclusively at online shopping behaviors, indicates that time-sensitive consumers will be more inclined than ever to shop online but be brand-savvy when they do. The study found:

• Students reported spending an average of two days more online each month compared to last year-62% said they used online services every day.

• 14% more students said they shop online than did two years ago.

• Nearly 60% of students reported using a search engine to locate stores online. Yahoo, Alta Vista and Excite were among the most frequently mentioned.

• Students said they select one online store over another based on low prices, best selection and personal knowledge of the brand sold. Fast delivery times and previous experience with the online store ranked fourth and fifth.

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