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Report: E-Holiday Sales Topped $6B

By Nora Macaluso
Dec 29, 2000 4:13 PM PT

A new report from shows that shoppers spent more than US$6 billion online this holiday season, up 60 percent from last year, as satisfied customers returned to their favorite Web merchants.

Report: E-Holiday Sales Topped $6B

More than 52 million orders for goods were placed over the Internet between November 20th and December 26th, according to the report issued Thursday by the Los Angeles, California-based online mall and comparison-shopping site.

According to BizRate, last year's holiday online sales totaled $3.75 billion, with 38 million online orders.

Lessons Learned

BizRate chairman and chief executive officer Chuck Davis said the figures show that e-tailers learned from last year's mistakes. "Last year, the story was how consumers were stung by e-tailers' poor planning," Davis said. "This year, consumers are the winners because e-tailers sat up, listened and met expectations."

Added Davis: "What is important this year is that e-tailers were able to deliver on their promises -- including on-time shipment and customer support. As a result, many businesses were rewarded with repeat customers as satisfied shoppers returned later in the season for additional gift purchases."

Estimates Vary

BizRate pegged the peak shopping day as Monday, December 18th, when sales totaled a record $254 million. BizRate said the peak this year came five days later than last year.

Other researchers say online shoppers got their orders in early this year, with sales topping out in early December. Estimates of holiday spending also vary: A report earlier this week from Goldman Sachs and PC Data Online found that holiday online sales totaled some $8.7 billion, up from $4.2 billion last year.

Satisfied Customers

According to BizRate, companies are doing a better job this year of delivering merchandise on time. Delivery time was ranked last in the firm's 1999 audit of customer satisfaction, but jumped up to third place this time around. Between November 10th and December 15th, 88 percent of online orders were delivered on time, up from 74 percent during the same period last year, BizRate said.

On-time delivery and customer support registered the largest improvements among categories in the satisfaction audit.

"The Internet is often criticized for lack of customer support," Davis noted. "On the contrary, consumers are telling that e-tailers are doing a much better job this year in providing quality service."

Top Gainers

Categories that saw the most growth this season compared with a year ago were home and garden, up 277.1 percent; toys, up 158.5 percent; and food and wine, up 77.4 percent.

Entertainment items, including CDs, videos and DVDs, remained the leading category, accounting for a quarter of online transactions -- excluding services such as travel -- for the holiday season.

"Considering the several macroeconomic factors hampering the overall retail sector, this was a good holiday season for online retail," Davis said. "Growth of 60 percent is a tremendous benchmark for any industry and is an important indicator that online shopping is here to stay."

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