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$13 million hourly
During the four weeks of November, online consumers spent $8.8 billion as compared with $7.4 billion during the same period last year, the report said. That means that during the month, consumers spent more than $13 million an hour, around the clock.
The 2004 figure also represents a 62% increase from the $5.5 billion spent online during the 2002 holiday season, when consumers were spending more than $8 million an hour around the clock during November.
Nielsen/NetRatings senior analyst Heather Doughterty said e-tailers' use of better pricing and incentives such as free shipping helped to boost online sales during the period. Wal-Mart, for instance, offered a sale on its Web site that ended Thanksgiving. "Consumers are making sure to shop early so they take advantage of free shipping before the Dec. 15 shipping deadline closes in," she said.
Price and convenience cited
Polled consumers gave three main reasons for shopping more heavily on the Web: better prices (36%), wider product selection than at physical stores (34%), and the desire to avoid the crowds and inconvenience associated with shopping at bricks-and-mortar facilities(33%).
The category on which consumers spent the most during November was apparel/clothing, for a total of $1.5 billion. Toys/video games (hardware and software) were next with $1 billion, while the video/DVD category followed closely with $882 million. Books and music categories rounded out the top five at $621 million and $481 million, respectively.
The category with the highest growth in holiday spending this year was toys/video games, which grew 43% over last year. Video/DVDs grew 39%.
Some 17% of the more than 1,000 consumers polled said they had finished their holiday shopping early; 48% said they had started but not finished and 35% said they hadn't yet begun holiday shopping.