Online Shopping Tumbles 50 Percent in January

Total spending on online sales decreased from $6.1 billion in December to $3 billion in January, according to the NRF/Forrester Online Retail Index. The number of households shopping online dropped from nearly 20 million in December to 13.3 million in January, spending an average of $228 per person, compared to $308 in December.

Toys and video games experienced the largest decrease, falling from nearly $600 million in December to $125 million in January. Food and beverages, flowers, jewelry, and apparel also experienced significant declines. Consumers spent $88 million online in January on food and beverages, down from $336 million in December. Online sales of flowers dropped to $62 million in January from $179 million, while apparel fell to $178 million in January.

“The 50 percent decline in online consumer spending in January is exactly what we would expect of the post-holiday season — not a reflection of how consumers feel about shopping on the Internet,” said James McQuivey, research director at Forrester. “Being able to shop for deals anytime in a bathrobe from the couch will keep the online shopping industry alive and kicking for as long as there is a World Wide Web.”


January 2001 NRF/Forrester Online Retail Index
Category Total Spent
in January

(in thousands)
Total Spent
in December

(in thousands)
December
Index Results

(Jan/Dec)
Small-Ticket Items
Software $137,821 $194,672 0.71
Books $142,550 $284,576 0.50
Music $96,466 $215,753 0.45
Videos $83,166 $182,434 0.46
Office supplies $86,502 $122,401 0.71
Apparel $178,643 $501,634 0.36
Footwear $41,080 $93,823 0.44
Jewelry $62,216 $179,572 0.35
Flowers $36,846 $107,016 0.34
Linens/Home Decor $43,607 $124,579 0.35
Health and Beauty $87,501 $154,069 0.57
Small appliances $39,703 $121,037 0.33
Toys/Video Games $125,554 $597,555 0.21
Sporting Goods $53,399 $130,808 0.41
Tools and Hardware $36,503 $76,838 0.48
Garden Supplies $24,741 $28,819 0.86
Big-Ticket Items
Computer hardware $362,449 $547,904 0.66
Consumer Electronics $178,889 $474,135 0.38
Appliances $23,975 $52,458 0.46
Furniture $26,101 $72,663 0.36
Food/Beverages $88,909 $336,184 0.26
Airline Tickets $501,450 $662,962 0.76
Car Rental $113,271 $147,147 0.77
Hotel Reservations $229,334 $281,188 0.82
Other $243,738 $456,547 0.53
Total Spending $3,044,414 $6,164,774 0.49
Number of Buyers 13,301 19,987 0.67
Average Spent per Consumer $228.88 $308.44 0.74
Source: NRF/Forrester

About the index:
The NRF/Forrester Online Retail Index measures, on a monthly basis, the growth and seasonality of online shopping based on data collected from online shoppers. The Index is based on 5,000 responses to an online panel fielded by Greenfield Online during the first 10 business days of each month. The monthly panel is weighted to Forrester Research’s Benchmark Panel, which surveyed nearly 90,000 US and Canadian members of a consumer mail panel developed by NPD Group. Data was weighed to represent the North American population demographically.

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