December 31, 2003, 12:00 AM

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For the past few years, researchers have also noted that a big spike occurs on the Monday after Thanksgiving. While that’s still the case, it’s not as pronounced as in previous year, says Davis of BizRate. He attributes that to the growing presence of broadband Internet access in homes. In addition, BizRate’s own traffic has undergone a change as the result of broadband in the home. Until this year, BizRate experienced its heaviest traffic around 3 p.m. Eastern time. That was still the case this year, but BizRate experienced a second spike at 9 p.m. Eastern time. “That’s the broadband effect,” Davis says. “With more broadband in home, more people are going online from home rather than waiting until they get to work to use the broadband connections there. On many days, the 9 p.m. spike was as big as the 3 p.m. spike.”

While retailers can infer from the growing sales and traffic that consumers like shopping online, another part of the eSpending Report confirms it. The problems that researchers identified had little impact on consumers’ satisfaction. 42% of respondents said they were “very satisfied” with the 2003 holiday shopping season, up 10 points from the year before. “Problems will always occur, just like in a retail store. Given the volume of shopping, the problems were a relatively low occurrence,” says Lori Iventosch-James, director of e-commerce research for Harris Interactive. “Retailers deserve a lot of credit for making things easier.”


The times they are a-changing

It stands to reason that retail channel shift is taking place as online sales grow at a faster pace than total retail sales. Is online drawing from catalogs, as some researchers contend (see, p. 30)? Or is it coming from stores? This year’s eSpending report from Goldman, Sachs & Co., Harris Interactive and Nielsen/NetRatings says stores.

The eSpending report surveys consumers weekly through the holiday shopping season. In the first five weeks of December, 6,000 respondents reported the proportion of gift dollars they were spending online, in stores and through catalogs. The results:

2003         2002

Online       20.5%       16.8%

Stores       72.7%       75.8%

Catalogs       6.8%       7.4%

“It’s a significant change,” says Lori Iventosch-James, director of e-commerce research for Harris Interactive. “It’s almost directly coming from stores. That indicates the level of comfort that people have shopping online.”

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