Internet Takes Over Window-Shopping; 29% Holiday Shopping Goes Online

From browsing to buying, the Internet will play a larger role than ever in holiday shopping this year as almost 88.7%of consumers regularly or occasionally examine products on the Internet before buying in a store, according to a new survey conducted for the National Retail Federation by BIGresearch. 
Shoppers, who are expected to spend $791.10 each this year on holiday merchandise, said they will use the Internet for an average of one-fourth (28.9%) of their shopping. Though nearly half (47.1%) of consumers plan to make at least one holiday purchase online this year, up from 36.0% three years ago, many will also use the Internet to browse before heading to stores to buy.  Researching merchandise online (browsed online before buying in a store within the last 90 days): 

  • electronics (39.3%)
  • apparel (20.0%) 
  • appliances (19.6%) 
  • home improvement items (18.0%) 
  • medicines, vitamins and supplements (16.2%) 
  • shoes (16.1%) 

“Companies view the Internet as a marketing opportunity, not only a sales channel,” said Phil Rist, Vice President of Strategy at BIGresearch. “Retailers see their websites as the first connection they make with many consumers and will be sprucing up their sites to give holiday shoppers ideas and information on popular gifts.”  That is significant for electronic-product powerhouses such as Best Buy Co., Circuit City Stores Inc., Sears Holdings Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which must increasingly keep their Web sites as dynamic and energetic as their stores, writes WSJ.

The survey found that shoppers use a variety of websites to research and compare products. Popular places for shoppers to begin searching for merchandise availability, prices and product specifics include: 

  • Google.com (23.6%)
  • Yahoo.com (7.2%)
  • Amazon.com (5.5%)
  • eBay (3.7%)

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