Internet Now Tied With Discounters As Top Destination For Gift Shopping.

Despite renewed economic concerns, online retail spending is continuing to grow.  For the third quarter of 2011, online retail spending reached $36.3 billion, up 13% versus a year ago, according to comScore. This growth rate represented the eighth consecutive quarter of positive year-​over-​year growth and fourth consecutive quarter of double-​digit growth rates. 

The top-​performing online product categories were: digital content & Subscriptions, event tickets, jewelry & watches, consumer electronics (excl. computer peripherals) and computer software. Each category grew at least 15% versus a year ago, comScore reported.

The third quarter of 2011 saw a continuation of the year’s strength in U.S. retail e‑commerce spending, even in the face of renewed economic headwinds and uncertainty facing the U.S. consumer,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “More consumers than ever before are relying on the online channel for product and pricing information, which along with the Internet’s fundamental appeal of convenience and attractive pricing, are contributing to the sustained upward momentum in e‑commerce spending.”

Other highlights from third quarter 2011 include:

  • The 13% increase was primarily a function of an increase in the number of buyers (up 22%), with 74% of all Internet users making at least one online purchase in the quarter.
  • Forty percent of e‑commerce transactions included free shipping, down from a peak of 49% percent in fourth quarter 2010. Free shipping rates tend to peak during the holiday season.

ONLINE SALES TO CONTINUE UPWARD MOMENTUM

According to a new holiday-​shopping survey from Deloitte, nearly half (48%) of consumers surveyed said they will shop online for the holidays, up from 35% last year.  This makes the Internet the No. 1 shopping destination, now tied with discount stores, for the first time since adding the channel to Deloitte’s annual study. In addition, shopping on the Web did not skew toward younger consumer’s in this year’s poll. An average of 30% of participants 45 years of age and older said they would shop online during the holidays, along with 32% of those from 18 to 24.

Among consumers surveyed, nearly half (48%) indicate that competitive prices are the top reason to shop with a particular retailer online followed by free shipping among 20% of respondents.  Additionally, seven out of 10 (69%) shoppers are more likely to shop online retailers who offer free shipping.

[Source:  "Q3 2011 U.S. Retail E‑Commerce Sales Estimates."  comScore.  9 Nov. 2011.  Web.  11 Nov. 2011; "26th Annual Holiday-​Shopping Survey." Deloitte.  11 Nov. 2011.  Web.  1  Nov. 2011.]