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Online spending is on the rise
According to a survey conducted by BizRate.com, consumers increased their spending online this quarter, although they also became more price-sensitive.
BizRate.com surveys more than 10 million consumers annually from point-of-sale surveys located at online retail sites. Each quarter, the company publishes the results to uncover trends in online purchasing. This quarter, BizRate.com found that online spending increased 24% over the third quarter last year, to $12.43 billion from last year’s $10.02 billion. Actual orders grew by 47%, to 101.34 million unique transactions, although the average purchase amount decreased 15% to $123 in the latest quarter, down from $145 in the same period last year.
The company said the lower purchase amounts are being driven by price comparison shopping. In fact, BizRate.com found that 78% of online buyers cited they were deal shopping because of tighter budgets, and 96% said they comparison shop some, most or all of the time. Nearly half of online buyers (48%) use aggregators such as comparison shopping sites, shopping portals, search engines and auction sites to start their shopping vs. going directly to a merchant site (52%).
The company said it expects this trend to continue into the holiday shopping season, with online shoppers expected to show more loyalty to price than store brand. Nearly half the respondents (45%) say they would not pay any price premium at all for store brands.
"Consumers are becoming increasingly deal-hungry and are leaning on comparison shopping sites to satiate that hunger, " said Chuck Davis, president and CEO of BizRate.com. "As a result, this holiday quarter, we expect to see more shoppers being very price and free-shipping sensitive."
BizRate.com forecasts $18.35 billion in online sales for the fourth quarter, a 22% increase in spending over last year's $15.04 billion.
Holiday shoppers spent a record $18.5 billion online during the 2003 holiday season, according to the eSpending Report released by Goldman, Sachs & Co., Harris Interactive, and Nielsen//NetRatings.
The figure represents an increase of 35 percent over the $13.7 billion spent in 2002.
The top five product categories were apparel, toys/video games, consumer electronics, computer hardware and peripherals, and video/DVD.
Online shoppers spent $3.8 billion on apparel this season, a 40 percent increase from last year. Toys and video games (hardware and software) drew $2.2 billion, jumping 33 percent from the previous year.
Consumer electronics sales were recorded at $2 billion, up 2 percent from 2002. The computer hardware/peripherals category generated sales of $1.7 billion, and video/DVD sales reached $1.6 billion, up 46 percent.
Survey results were generated from more than 9,500 Internet users.
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