Whether the surge of shoppers that went online to buy holiday gifts will repeat itself again this year is not a sure deal, as a number of events have shaken consumers' trust in the viability of buying goods online, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Online traffic has yet to even show mild growth, according to the "Holiday E-Commerce Index," a joint effort by media researcher Nielsen Media Research and Web measurement service NetRatings. In fact, for the week ended Nov. 5, the Nielsen/NetRatings index, which measures home and work online visitors to e-commerce sites in 10 categories, revealed that the holiday shopping season has yet to begin with 0% growth. By comparison, in the same first week of November 1999, there was explosive growth when consumers first began to shop online for the holidays. "Last year's holiday shopping season began with a big bang right after people put away their Halloween costumes," said Sean Kaldor, VP of eCommerce at NetRatings. "This year we are not seeing the same trends." Jupiter Media Metrix, however, estimates that 6.3 million U.S. residents will spend the majority, more than 50%, of their holiday budget online this year, an increase of 294% from 1999, when only 1.6 million spent the majority of their budget shopping online. Media Metrix said a 12-mnth audience measurement trend shows the proportion of visitors to shopping sites throughout 2000 already resembles the holiday season of 1999; their audience ratings trend indicates that nearly the same proportion of online users visited retail sites in August 2000 as did in December 1999, 74.9% and 73.3% , respectively. Jupiter believes that 35 million U.S. residents will purchase gifts online this season, compared to 20 million last year. Online holiday spending will increase to $11.6 billion from $7 billion last year, Jupiter predicted.
Copyright November 2000, Crain Communications Inc.