2002 E-Commerce Holiday Wrap-Up

BizRate has tallied the numbers for the 2002 holiday online shopping season and found an astounding 40 percent increase over Q4 2001. Fourth quarter online sales in 2002 rang up $17.44 billion, bringing the yearly total to $47.98 billion – a 34 percent increase over 2001’s total online sales of $35.87 billion. There were 358.6 million purchases online in 2002 – up 37 percent from 261.7 million orders in 2001.

According to BizRate, fourth quarter growth was driven by:

  • Convenience – with six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, consumers began shopping in November from the comfort of their homes.
  • Value – the sluggish economy motivated shoppers to bargain-hunt and take advantage of free-shipping incentives.
  • Women – females accounted for 60 percent of the e-commerce sales, compared to 1998 when they were only making 39 percent of the online purchases.

Spending measurements revealed that Monday, December 9, 2002 was the peak shopping day, racking up $367 million in sales, followed by Monday, December 2 and Wednesday, December 11, accounting for $366.2 million and $364.6 million in spending respectively.

“All in-all, this was a buyers’ market,” said BizRate.com president and chief executive officer Chuck Davis. “Consumers were heavily promoted to, with lower prices and more free shipping offers. Retailers needed to have a very white Christmas and offered a record number of promotional deals, thereby bringing a record number of consumers to shop online.”


Online Sales ($billion)
Quarter 2001 2002
% Change
Q1 $8.22 $10.08 23%
Q2 $7.91 $10.45 32%
Q3 $7.32 $10.02 37%
Q4 $12.43 $17.44 40%
Holiday* $6.43 $7.92 23%
Full Year $35.87 $47.98 34%
Source: BizRate. * Holiday period is measured from November 25-December 25, 2002. Holiday period is included in fourth quarter data.

Despite record numbers of shoppers, the average purchase price declined 10 percent for the holiday season, and 2 percent for the year, further indicating the impact of bargain-hunting.


Average Purchase Price
Quarter 2001 2002
% Change
Q1 $119 $127 6%
Q2 $127 $126 -1%
Q3 $161 $145 -10%
Q4 $146 $137 -6%
Holiday* $145 $131 -10%
Full Year $137 $134 -2%
Source: BizRate. * Holiday period is measured from November 25-December 25, 2002. Holiday period is included in fourth quarter data.

BizRate data indicates that the computer hardware, electronics, and entertainment categories accounted for the top Q4 sales, but the strongest growth in the last quarter of 2002 came from the entertainment, office supplies, and toys and games categories.

Additional holiday 2002 shopping season data:
Online Retailers Ring Up a Merry Christmas
E-Tailers Enjoying Pre-Holiday Sales Crush
E-Commerce Racks Up a $2 Billion Week
Books Are Among Bestsellers
Get Ready, Get Set, Shop!
Early Numbers Show Shopping Strength
Capturing Holiday Digital Dollars

Reprinted from CyberAtlas

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