October 22, 2001, 12:00 AM

GartnerG2 sees a 39% lift in online spending worldwide for Holiday 2001

North American online holiday shopping will increase 30%, says GartnerG2. Consumers’ growing familiarity with the web is the single biggest factor in increased spending online, say the group’s analysts.

San Jose, CA-based GartnerG2, Gartner, Inc.’s new business strategies research division, this week joins other industry research firms issuing generally upbeat forecasts for Holiday 2001 online spending. GartnerG2 predicts that worldwide, shoppers will spend some $25.3 billion online in Q4, a 39% increase over last year. For North America alone, GartnerG2 forecasts a 30% increase over last year in Q4 online spending, representing some $11.86 billion in sales.

GartnerG2 predicts that while economic uncertainty will slow some of the potential for growth, the events of Sept. 11 will have little impact on planned online spending. The group’s survey of more than 16,000 consumers between Sept. 26 and Oct. 7 showed that 80.5% of those who shopped online last year plan to shop at the same rate online this year, while 13.6% said they’ll spend less online and 6% said they’ll spend more. The predicted sales increase will be driven by increases in the number of online users, buyers, and their growing experience with the web.

Web experience, says GartnerG2, is the single most important predictor of online spending. “As we see an increase in consumers` years of experience on the web, there’s a moderate but steady growth in their use of the web for online buying. So we’re expecting 30% organic growth in online spending among consumers,” says David Schehr, research director for GartnerG2.

At the same time, experience is making online shoppers more selective. “A few years ago, people were browsing and shopping in categories that they’ve now cut back on. Now, more of the people who do browse are converting it into buying,” he says. Bigger-ticket items, such as furniture and major appliances, aren’t getting a lot of browsing activity or conversions on the web, he notes. “It’s the books, CDs, video games, toys and a lot of what’s come out of catalog retailers, like jewelry, collectibles and clothing, that people continue to purchase online at fairly high rates,” he says.

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