January 3, 2002, 12:00 AM

More shoppers went online and spent more this holiday, says Pew research

Nearly 29 million consumers bought gifts online this holiday season, up from 20 million a year ago, reports the Pew Internet Project.

Reports of successful holiday sales online already stand out in a season that was challenging for retail overall. Now a new report from the ongoing Pew Internet and American Life project offers more confirmation that trouble with the economy hasn’t stopped web shopping’s upward curve. Close to 29 million people bought gifts online during holiday 2001, spending an average $392 each. That’s an increase from the estimated 20 million who bought gifts online the previous year, spending an average $330.

The Pew research also reports that 58% of Internet users have ever purchased goods online, up from 51% a year earlier. As of the end of December, 64 million adults had ever purchased something online up from 53 million a year earlier. On a typical day during December 2001, more than 6 million people were online buying products, up from 5 million buying online on a typical day in December 2000, Pew says.

About 26% of Internet users purchased gifts online during this holiday season – which the study defined as Nov. 19 through Dec. 23. Some of the sharpest increases in the online gift-buying population were among minorities and young web users, defined by Pew as between ages 18 and 25. Women significantly surpassed men in online shopping. In 2001, 58% of those who bought holiday gifts online between Thanksgiving and Christmas were women. And 31% of female Internet users bought gifts online this holiday season, compared to 22% of men.

Some 84% of online shoppers polled in the report said they saved time by buying on the Internet, up from the 79% who said so a year earlier. And 60% of online shoppers said they saved money by ordering online, up from 52% last year. Report author Lee Rainie, the project’s director, called the success of the holiday season online "part of a broader story about advances in e-retailing as more people spent more money online this year compared to last year.” The study interviewed 4,025 adults, including 2,354 Internet users.


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