Shoppers Increasingly Go Online To Buy Holiday Gifts - InformationWeek

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Shoppers Increasingly Go Online To Buy Holiday Gifts

Consumers becoming more comfortable with the Web are flocking to cyberspace this holiday season looking for bargains instead of braving crowded malls and parking lots. Online sales at J.C. Penny's, Sears, Target, Wal-Mart, and other multichannel retailers are up more than 40% year over year, says research firm ComScore Networks.

An uptick in Web shopping came Nov. 29, as consumers returned to work and took full advantage of tools and services that require high-speed broadband access. It's an indication that consumers will use the Internet to shop in the future, says Forrester Research senior analyst Carrie Johnson. On the day after Thanksgiving, for instance, seven out of 10 consumers who bought Dell plasma TVs did so online.

ComScore Networks says online retail sales on Nov. 29 surged 30% from the previous year to $391 million. Still, the spikes in demand on E-commerce sites slowed order processing. Keynote Systems Inc., which tracks Web performance, says higher-than-expected demand could overload top online retail sites and sour customers on online shopping. Keynote's E-Commerce Web Transaction Performance Index indicates that reliability on top retail sites that Monday morning fell to 80% from a 97% yearly average. The daily average time to complete a sale on a site increased to 21 seconds, up from 14 seconds, the research firm says.

Even with overloads, retailers saw solid sales, with nearly one in three consumers choosing to do some holiday shopping on the Web, according to the National Retail Federation. The industry group says retailers during the long Thanksgiving weekend rang up $22 billion in store and online sales.

If early shopping trends continue this holiday season, online retailers definitely will have much to celebrate.

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