December 18, 2001, 12:00 AM

More than half of consumers are buying holiday gifts online, Deloitte says

58% of consumers are doing some holiday gift buying online this year, says a Deloitte & Touche survey. 2% have conducted all of their holiday gift buying online.

More than half of American consumers-58%--are buying holiday gifts on the Internet, says a new survey by the Consumer Business Practice of Deloitte & Touche LLP with BIGresearch LLC. At the same time, only 2% of consumers are doing all their shopping on the web, says the survey of more than 7,000 consumers conducted between Dec. 7 and 13. Last year, 47% of consumers bought online, Deloitte says. "Although consumers are spending less online than in stores, the Internet is still a stable and significant channel for retailers," said Tara Weiner, managing director of Deloitte & Touche`s Consumer Business Practice.

The 58% represent consumers who have conducted a retail transaction online, Deloitte says. A higher percentage than that have conducted some of their shopping-followed by buying offline-on the web.

Web shoppers cited the following reasons for why they like shopping on the Internet:
--86% shop the web to save time,
--81% for the selection of products,
--77% to avoid traffic in stores,
--70% think the web has lower prices than stores,
--42% to avoid sales taxes.

For the 42% of respondents who don`t shop online, the top three reasons cited were:
-- desire to handle a product before buying, cited by 40%;
-- fear of credit card fraud or other security issues, 40%;
-- use the Internet only to browse for gift ideas and product information, 39%.

More men (28%) than women (19%) said they are concerned about delivery time for online purchases, perhaps influenced by the fact that they have completed less shopping thus far, Weiner said.

The fact that the percentage of online buyers has risen from 47% to 58% is evidence that the Internet is not well-entrenched in the American shopping experience. “I take that growth as a sign that the web is approaching channel maturity,” Carl Steidtman, chief economist of Deloitte Research, tells “We are approaching the point where it will be difficult to add to those numbers.”


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