Shoppers Hit Net Early in 2000

Online holiday shopping slowed down during the week ending Dec. 17, making the prior week of December 10 the peak of the holiday season, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

The Nielsen//NetRatings Holiday E-Commerce Index, which measures online shopping trips to representative e-commerce sites in eight product categories, spiked to the season’s all-time high of 68.4 million shopping trips during the week ending December 10, while dropping 7 percent to 63.3 million this past week.

Media Metrix announced that 33.8 million unique visitors went to online retail sites during the week ending Dec. 17, 2000, down by 5.2 percent from its peak of 35.6 million during week two of the holiday season. The Media Metrix Online Shopping Index, which aggregates Web visitors to nearly 400 retail sites and 18 retail subcategories, last year peaked at 27.4 million unique visitors during week three of the holiday season.

“Last year online shoppers increasingly flocked to retail sites through the final days of the holiday season,” said Anne Rickert, measurement analyst, Media Metrix. “This year online shopping is up, but many who might have been disappointed with or fearful of late-arriving goods last year appear to have shopped earlier.”

The ongoing Goldman Sachs/PC Data online holiday shopping study found the week of Dec. 17 to be the peak of the shopping season, as overall spending nearly doubled from 1999 levels. Online consumer spending increased during the week of Dec. 17 to $1.6 billion, up slightly over the previous week’s $1.5 billion. This compares to $878 during the comparable week in 1999.

“We’ve had a much longer online holiday season this year than we did in 1999,” said Cameron Meierhoefer, Internet analyst at PC Data. “In 1999, consumers bombarded online retailers in early December. This year, volume surged in early November and maintained peak levels. Cautious consumers started shopping earlier to ensure that gifts were delivered on time, while more experienced retailers encouraged early shopping so they could better manage the load.”

The Goldman Sachs/PC Data numbers also demonstrate high satisfaction with online buying. Forty percent said their shopping experience was better than in 1999 and 54 percent said it was the same. Five percent said it was worse.

Online Consumer Spending by Category
Week ending 12/17/00
Category Spending
% Gift
Apparel $227,164 59.3%
Books $88,005 49.0%
Computer Software $33,458 18.3%
Computer Hardware $236,663 39.1%
Game hardware $7,529 83.2%
Game software $31,123 60.6%
Toys/Childrens $142,482 90.4%
Greeting cards $17,264 47.3%
Event tickets $20,537 32.6%
Electronics $90,239 79.8%
Food/grocery $36,453 31.4%
Home & Garden $37,121 72.7%
Flowers $22,554 82.3%
HBA $20,397 29.7%
Personal Accessories $122,558 65.1%
Music $39,990 57.1%
Pet supplies $68,660 26.3%
Sporting goods $18,810 67.1%
Travel $197,467 16.8%
Video/DVD $51,676 52.9%
Other $75,259 48.0%
Total $1,585,409
Source: PC Data/Goldman Sachs

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