December 30, 2002, 12:00 AM

Online shopping hit $8 billion from Thanksgiving to Christmas, BizRate says

Consumers spent $7.92 billion online from Nov. 25 until Christmas, 23% higher than the comparable holiday period last year, reports. When accounting for the six fewer shopping days this year, holiday 2002 grew by 42.8%, BizRate says.


Consumers spent $7.92 billion online from Nov. 25 until Christmas, 23% higher than the comparable holiday period last year (Nov. 19-Dec. 25, 2001), reports. There were six fewer shopping days this holiday versus last year. When adding six days (Nov. 19-24 2002) back in, holiday 2002 grew by 42.8% to $9.18 billion versus holiday 2001`s $6.43 billion, BizRate says.

BizRate reports the peak shopping day was Monday, Dec. 9, when sales hit $367 million. Last year, the peak shopping day was Monday, Dec. 10, with $253.8 million in sales. The second and third busiest shopping days this year were Monday, Dec. 2 and Wednesday, Dec. 11, accounting for $366.2 million and $364.6 million in spending.

As online satisfaction continues to improve, consumers did more last minute shopping online this year. Spending on the last weekend (December 21-22, 2002) before Christmas Day was $297.6 million - up by 92% compared to the same weekend (December 22-23, 2001) last year, BizRate reports.

For the third year in a row, women were responsible for the majority of online purchases, increasing their share of buying to 60% from last holiday`s 56%. BizRate notes that as recently as 1998, women accounted for only 39% of all online holiday transactions.

BizRate says the most popular online categories this holiday season were computer hardware, electronics, entertainment, apparel and toys & games. The most searched for products at within those categories, were digital cameras and printers, camcorders, handbags & luggage and building sets & models.

Top 10 Online Sales Categories
# 1: Computer Hardware, $2.572 billion
# 2: Electronics, $1.168 billion
# 3: Entertainment, $964.4 million
# 4: Apparel, $763.8 million
# 5: Toys & Games, $635.6 million
# 6: Office Supplies, $339.3 million
# 7: Gifts & Flowers, $327.2 million
# 8: Home & Garden, $305.6 million
# 9: Computer Software, $326.9 million
# 10: Health & Beauty, $196.2 million

39% of purchases this holiday season were influenced by free shipping deals, the No. 1 online incentive, BizRate reports. Yet, only 9.3% of orders actually had a no shipping charge. "Free shipping offers brought consumers into the stores, but conditional free shipping offers meant many consumers actually paid for the freight," says Chuck Davis, president and CEO of BizRate. The average shipping charge increased this holiday by 14.8% versus last holiday, from $10.19 in holiday 2001 to $11.70 in holiday 2002.

According to other holiday data from, online shoppers visited an average of four sites before deciding which merchant to buy from, and would visit their chosen merchant site an average of 2.5 times before completing a transaction.

BizRate also reported that the majority of shoppers go directly to a merchant¡¦s site: Consumers said they start their online shopping at:
A specific merchant (54%)
A comparison shopping site (22%)
A search engine (11%)
A shopping portal (8%)
An auction site (5%)


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