E-Holiday Sales Peak During 2nd Week of December

Online shopping reached its peak during the week of December 6th through 12th, according to a Goldman Sachs / PC Data Online survey that was released today. Spending then fell from $1.25 billion (US$) to $495 million during Christmas week (December 20 – 26), as online visitors turned to greeting cards and computer game sites.

Additionally, a Media Metrix report on online visitors shows that Internet traffic reached its high mark during the week of December 6 – 12, with the largest increase in visitors to shopping sites. The big winners in traffic included the toy category and sites run by brick and mortar retailers.

The 1999 E-Holiday Season Was an Overall Success

The dollar report from Goldman Sachs/PC Data Online and the traffic survey from Media Metrix show a picture of a robust online spending season that matched the weekly spending patterns of offline retailing. “All in all, 1999 was a banner year for holiday-related e-commerce,” said Doug MacFarland, senior vice president and general manager of Media Metrix. “We consistently found major gains overall since last year on a week-to-week comparison.”

The online dollars matched the climb in offline holiday spending. “In 1999, online holiday shopping patterns mirrored buying behavior in the traditional brick-and-mortar environment,” said Cameron Meierhoefer, Internet analyst for PC Data Online. “The online spending surge began Thanksgiving week and $545 million in sales, peaking two weeks later at $1.25 billion. During Christmas week, we saw online spending levels drop back to just $500 million.”

Meierhoefer questioned whether the Internet shopping surge would produce an overall higher level of retail e-commerce in its wake. “What we don’t know is whether there will be a hangover from 1999 that will boost online sales to a newer, higher level,” said Meierhoefer. Positive residual spending occurred after the 1998 holiday Internet spending hit high-water marks.

Card and Game Sites Spike

As shopping eased during Christmas week, Internet traffic switched to games, greeting cards, movie information and news. Not surprisingly, gift-card sites skyrocketed, with 123greetings.com experiencing a gain of 168 percent for the week, Messagemates.com seeing 86 percent growth, and Bluemountainarts.com tallying a 82 percent increase.

Other big gainers during Christmas week included Hollywood.com, a movie information site, with a 64 percent surge in visitors. Enews, a magazine subscription site, enjoyed a 48 percent increase for the week.

Game sites with Christmas-week increases included Gamecenter (+16 percent), Nintendo.com (+15 percent) and Zone.com (+14 percent). Other winners were Claus.com, a site devoted to Christmas, showing a 38 percent one-week gain, and Microsoft’s computing Web site. Computing Central, with a 35 percent lift in visitors.

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