According to Goldman Sachs and PC Data Online, the 1999 holiday shopping season kicked off the week of November 12-16 with a 17 percent spike in online gift buying. The uptick bucked an overall drop in Internet spending for that week.
The total amount of money spent online last week was $208 million (US$), down from $222 million the prior week. More than a quarter of that $208 million, however, was spent on gifts.
The holiday buying season may have surprised some shoppers this year, PC Data Online analyst Cameron Meierhoefer said. “Early signs on this current week indicate that buying activity is picking up significantly, as people realize that Thanksgiving is here,” he said.
So far, shoppers are happy with their experience, the researchers added, which bodes well for increased online shopping activity for the remainder of the year. About 77 percent of shoppers said last week that they were satisfied with their experience, up from 67 percent at the end of October.
PC Data Online and Goldman Sachs surveyed 3,019 home-based Internet users and found that 42 percent have already started their holiday shopping. Another 23 percent said they plan to start shopping before Thanksgiving.
While the overall spending drop reflected small dips in nearly every online buying category, toy spending rose 33 percent for the week. Eighty-three percent of toy purchases were gifts, and the category now ranks fourth among most popular online buying categories, behind computer software, the perennial top product category, music and books.
Giving While Giving
The increase in online shopping for the holidays may also bode well for online charitable sites. Nearly 70 percent of Americans say they plan to buy a product this year from a company or organization that donates a portion of the price to a good cause, according to the 1999 Cone Holiday Trend Tracker survey.
Overall cause-related shopping is up 33 percent from 1997, Boston, Massachusetts-based research firm Cone, Inc. said, with 11 percent of shoppers this year saying that they plan to look to the Internet for charitable gift buying opportunities. “This medium is an additional venue from which to generate money for worthy causes, as the number of online holiday shoppers is expected to nearly triple from last year to 67 percent,” Cone said.
The growing number of women online may also help drive online charitable shopping. According to Cone, women are overwhelmingly more supportive of cause-related activities during the holiday season.
Women are more likely than men to consider a company’s reputation for charitable donations in their purchasing decisions, more likely to shop from a retailer associated with a good cause, and more likely to purchase a holiday gift associated with a good cause.