January 20, 2011, 11:13 AM

Nearly 64% of Americans shopped online over the holidays

And 5% of consumers did so exclusively, according to a new survey.

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The majority of consumers who use the Internet, 63.5%, went online to shop for the holidays, according to a new survey. Moreover, 5.1% of those shoppers bought exclusively online throughout the season. There's no year-over-year comparison because BIGresearch, which conducted the survey, did not pose those questions in 2010.

Internet-only retailers like Amazon.com Inc. were the biggest winners among online retailers, according to the American Pulse survey. The survey shows 55.9% of shoppers said they shopped at online-only retail sites over the holidays, 45.1% shopped at the web sites of bricks-and-mortar discount store sites, like Walmart.com and 24.8% shopped at auction sites like eBay.com.

Shoppers surveyed said they went online to find a broader assortment and better deals, even though they expect better service at physical stores.

46.3% of shoppers said online retailers have the best assortment of merchandise, compared to 16.0% who said bricks-and-mortar. 50.2% of shoppers said online retailers have the best prices and 35.0% said the best sales and promotions, compared to 14.4% and 28.6%, respectively, for physical stores. However, only 19.8% of shoppers said online retailers have the best customer service, compared to 49.7% who said bricks-and-mortar.

Despite the high rate at which consumers said they shopped at web-only retailers, 70% of consumers said they prefer to shop online at retailers that have both online and physical stores. One reason: 62.3% of shoppers would rather make a return in-person in a store, compared to 27.4% who would rather ship it back.

BIGresearch conducted the survey of 5,244 consumers Jan. 4-6.

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