Online Holiday Sales Spike 35 Percent

Online consumers made a spirited run on toys, electronics and books last week, as overall online sales surged up by 35 percent over the same period last year.

According to Media Metrix, the three e-tailers that led the pack for the week ending Sunday were Amazon.com, eBay, and eToys.

The three sites registered 7.05 million, 4.67 million and 2.26 million visitors respectively, with each visitor counted just once during the week.

Best Is Yet To Come

Still, December 5 through 15 is expected to be the busiest time ever for online merchants. Several retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores and Toys “R” Us, have already said that they cannot guarantee that orders made via the Internet will arrive on time for the holidays.

Top Five Sites

For the previous three-week period of November 5th – 21st, Amazon.com ranked number one with an average of 5.78 million visitors per week.

eBay came in second, averaging 4.15 million visitors per week, with eToys ranked third with 1.91 million, Toysrus.com fourth with 1.75 million, and Buy.com in fifth place with 1.63 million.

A Toy Story

This holiday season is the first where both brick-and-mortar and e-tailers have pulled out all the stops in their battle to win dominance in the online toy market.

In 1998, eToys easily led the pack, but the dot-com has had its hands full this year with rivals such as Amazon.com, which added toys to its arsenal this season. Additionally, Toyrus.com and KBkids.com have been holding their own, penetrating the e-commerce arena by leveraging their strong brick-and-mortar presence.

As a result, eToys’ shares have plummeted 28 percent since the beginning of December, despite the fact that eToys’ fourth-quarter earnings will probably exceed most forecasts.

Nonetheless, to spark last minute sales, eToys is offering premium shipping for the price of standard shipping until December 18th.

E-tailers Getting High Marks

Along with soaring online orders, e-tailers are also getting high marks for service and delivery this holiday season.

According to a survey done by BancBoston Robertson Stephens, Inc. and Bizrate.com, consumers rated their overall online shopping experience an average 8.62 on a scale of 1 to 10 during the week ended December 5th.

Still, the most common complaints registered by online shoppers about their experiences included slow Web sites, wrong or late deliveries, lack of product availability and slow — or nonexistent — customer service.

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