January 17, 2006, 12:00 AM

Affluent women still dominate, but online shoppers are becoming mainstream

Ten years ago most online shoppers were upper-income females with annual household income of more than $80,000, but in 2005 the average income of households shopping online was closer to $60,000, says Forrester Research vice president Carrie Johnson.

Women remain the dominant segment of the U.S. population shopping online, but the demographics are becoming more mainstream, Forrester Research vice president Carrie Johnson told attendees Monday at the National Retail Federation annual convention in New York City.

Ten years ago the majority of web shoppers were women with annual household income of more than $80,000, but in 2005 the average household income of customers shopping online was closer to $60,000. “Women continue to dominate the ranks of online shoppers, but the level of education and household income continues to fall,” she says. “This means online retailing is appealing to a wider segment of the population.”

While more people are shopping online, most still prefer to do at least some of their shopping in stores. “Even online shoppers still prefer to do some shopping face-to-face,” she says. “Research shows that 83% of online shoppers like shopping in a store.”

With web retailing becoming more mainstream, Johnson says retailers are using their Internet channel to generate more sales, but also as a marketing tool to increase brand awareness. “Retailers are responding to changing web demographics by sorting out the role of the Internet across multiple channels,” she says. “There is practically no such thing as a single channel retailer any more.”

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