One survey from Virginia-based research firm ComScore Networks Inc. said that 2001 holiday Internet sales are on track to grow nearly 15 percent from last year to around USD10.5 billion. The company, which tracks and supplies e-business data to research firms, followed the on-line spending habits of around 1.5 million people, mostly in the United States, and as of 23 December the company said Web users had spent USD9.6 billion on-line.
Furthermore the company predicts that consumer electronics purchases on-line will post the biggest gains while apparel and accessories purchases are expected to rise 50 percent quarter-over-quarter.
Meanwhile other research firms and e-companies issued Christmas sales estimates both before and after the holidays. Forrester Research's revised forecast from December predicted on-line sales of around USD8 billion while early estimates from Microsoft claimed that users of its MSN service logged sales of USD5.6 billion. Yahoo said its users spent USD10.3 billion.
According to Katriona O'Leary, marketing manager with Buy4Now, one of Ireland's largest e-tailers, Irish consumers were more keen then ever to shop on-line this Christmas. O'Leary said that Buy4Now doubled its sales and the number of visitors to its site in the last quarter of 2001 and the company now expects to reach profitability in first quarter of 2002.
Some of Buy4Now's most popular items over Christmas, according to O'Leary, were many of the more traditional e-commerce items including books, CDs and DVDs. O'Leary said that the business expected to continue to grow in 2002 and had plans to launch some additional sites following the successful Christmas.
"I think Irish people have more confidence in shopping on-line now," O'Leary said, citing a variety of factors including better customer service, enhanced security and more familiarity with the Internet and the Buy4Now brand. The company now employs 19 and offers products from 19 retailers on its site.
Other interesting figures were released to kick off 2002 with regard to on-line shopping and the on-line shoppers themselves. A report by Pew Internet and the American Life Project claims that more women than men now shop on-line. That survey, released on Tuesday, found the average consumer was spending more money on electronic commerce sites and that in the 2001 holiday shopping season 58 percent of those making on-line purchases were women.
According to the two organisations, the average on-line shopper spent a total of USD392 in 2001, up 19 percent from USD330 in 2000. In total, 29 million people bought gifts on-line during the 2001 holiday season, up from 20 million in 2000. Additionally, more than 25 percent of those who bought on-line did so for the first time this year, the report said.
More encouraging news came from Forrester Research, in conjunction with Greenfield Online, in the results of the companies' latest Forrester Online Retail Index. That survey said that pre-December shopping was also on the rise with total US spending on-line jumping from USD3.6 billion in October to USD4.9 billion in November. The number of households shopping on-line increased to 16.8 million in November, from 13.7 million in October. Consumers spent an average of USD293 per person in November, compared with USD265 in October, Forrester claimed.
Finally, a report from IDC warned e-tailers to heed the message of the ghost of Christmas yet to come. "Although e-shopping is expected to increase at a level in 2002 comparable to that in 2001, the opportunity for retailers to take advantage of this opportunity is threatened by reduced IT spending," said Carol Glasheen, IDC's vice president of global market models and demand-side research.
IDC says that in 2002, US holiday e-commerce will reach USD26 billion, a 49 percent increase over 2001. But the US based company cautioned that although consumers are spending more of their holiday budgets on-line, e-shopping and consumer e-commerce in general will be constrained by supply, as reduced IT investments resulting from the economic slowdown limit some e-tailers' ability to meet the demand.