Holiday E-Commerce Expected To Top $10B

As the holiday e-nickels are counted, an Ernst & Young survey indicates that the total e-commerce take will surpass estimates by reaching between $10 and $13 billion (US$). If the figures do hold, 1999 will deliver a tally that is 300 percent higher than 1998’s $4 billion.

The survey of 1,283 Internet users shows that average online shoppers spent $1,225 on the Internet over the past 12 months, with 60 percent spending at least $500. 87 percent of respondents said that their total purchases were up over last year, and also expect to spend the same amount or more this year.

For the first time, women shoppers outpaced men 56 to 44 percent. During the 1998 holiday season, male shoppers out-numbered female shoppers, but female Internet users just recently reached parity with male users.

Total 1999 Online Spending Higher Than Expected

“Our most recent data reveals that online shoppers spent their money across a variety of online retailers and categories,” said Stephanie Shern, Ernst & Young’s global director for retail and consumer products. “Given this new data, we are updating our estimate for online holiday sales in 1999 to $10 to $13 billion.”

The Ernst & Young data that lifted the total holiday online spending also prompted an adjustment of the research company’s 1999 total e-tailing numbers. “Considering the dramatic increase in the number of Internet sites and merchandise available, plus the broad-based success among these retailers, our estimate of total revenue for calendar year 1999 is $25 to $30 billion,” said Shern.

Average Dollar-Spent Category

Although Amazon, eToys and Toys “R” Us led the e-pack for total visits and sales, there were some surprises on the list of sites with the highest average dollar spent per transaction. Of the top two dozen sites, Best Buy led with an average purchase of $233. Egghead was close behind with $217.

Other high-dollar sites were 1800flowers ($173), Disney ($172) and Wal-Mart ($167).

The three sites with the highest overall volume showed a healthy per-purchase average, with Amazon ringing up an average order of $128. eToys averaged $127, and Toys “R” Us came in with an average of $134.

Favorites and Disappointments

The survey also asked about favorite sites and disappointments. Amazon topped the favorite list based on selection, prices and user-friendliness. Rounding out the list was eBay, Buy.com, eToys and barnesandnoble.com.

On the list of disappointing sites, Toys “R” Us led with complaints of out-of-stock merchandise, slowness, and merchandise that could not be delivered on time. Buy.com and eToys held the third and fourth positions on both the favorites list and disappointment list. Best Buy was second on disappointments, while Wal-Mart came in fifth.

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