, a division of Jupitermedia Corporation, today announced that it forecasts that online holiday retail sales will be $17 billion, a 21% increase over online consumer spending in 2002. Despite the fact that 46% of consumers stated they will shop more than four weeks before the holiday, Jupiter Research expects the convenience of online purchasing, the primary reason consumers shop online, to push purchasers to the very edge of the buying season. In 2003, books and apparel top consumers’ gift lists, and the toy category has overtaken the purchase of music.
Based on an October 2003 consumer survey fielded by Jupiter Research, Jupiter Research’s new report “Holiday 2003: Online Pushes Limits of Last Minute Shopping” found that close to 40% of online users plan to do some or all of their holiday shopping online, an increase of 18% over last year. Overall, consumers are more confident in spending in the online channel; fewer consumers cited fear of credit card security this versus last year (36% vs. 47%, respectively). Half of consumers say they can find the products they are looking for online more easily than in stores and they believe they can obtain hard-to-locate products online far easier than in stores. Jupiter Research attributes these shifts in consumer attitude, and the 21% surge in holiday spending this year, to the influx of new buyers using the online channel.
Jupiter Research’s Holiday 2003 Executive Survey shows that retailers have taken measures to improve their fulfillment and customer service capabilities this year, and to ensure they are ready for the last minute rush. Forty one percent of online retailers surveyed will offer extended cut-off dates in order to encourage last minute purchases. Just over half of the retailers surveyed by Jupiter Research will also rely on new seasonal staff to accommodate the increased demand. According to Patti Freeman Evans, Retail Analyst at Jupiter Research, “Given the short selling season and the highest projected online holiday sales volume ever, online retailers stand to gain or lose a great deal by anticipating consumers’ last minute shopping needs.” Because consumers’ primary concerns about buying gifts online center on shipping and delivery, retailers who fulfill orders on time, even very late in the buying season, stand to garner high loyalty points with holiday shoppers.