December 22, 2011, 11:05 AM

Online shoppers step up purchasing as holiday nears

This week started strongly as consumers raced to beat shipping deadlines.

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Many e-retailers’ order deadlines for guaranteed delivery by Christmas began to pass this week, and consumers rushed to make last-minute purchases. E-retail sales from Monday through Wednesday reached nearly $1.08 billion for the top 50 retailers tracked by Chase Paymentech’s Cyber Holiday Pulse Index, up 26.7% from the comparable days a year ago, when sales reached $852.1 billion.

Season-to-date sales for the retailers in the index have increased approximately 25%, the payment processing company says. Chase Paymentech says the seven-day period from Dec. 12 to Dec. 18 was the busiest week for the retailers in its index. Those retailers processed approximately 4.6 million more orders during the week than during the seven days following Thanksgiving, typically one of the strongest sales week for e-retailers.

The heaviest online shopping days last week were Monday, when sales hit $1.13 billion, and Friday, Dec. 16, a day when 2,300 e-retailers took part in the Free Shipping Day promotion organized by; shoppers spent $1.07 billion at retail web sites that day, according to comScore Inc. The research company, which tracks web sales, says e-retail sales topped $1 billion four times last week and that online retailers are on track to generate 15% more in sales this season from last year.

E-retailers that show up highest in search engine results often get first crack at shoppers, and some familiar e-retailing names are taking those tops spots in shopping-related queries, according to survey by search engine optimization vendor Conductor. Conductor analyzed this month nearly 10,000 gift terms consumers entered into search engines when shopping online in the categories of beauty, clothing, electronics, jewelry and toys. The firm then predicted which retailers are likely to come out ahead in each category according to how well e-retailers ranked in those keyword searches. It says, No. 1 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide, is best positioned in search results to grab shoppers looking for health and beauty gifts and toys;, an Amazon subsidiary, is tops in clothing; Apple Inc., No. 3, in consumer electronics; and, No. 27, is the e-retailer best optimized to draw consumers shopping for jewelry.  


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