Saturday, January 19, 2008

America's holiday shopping extravaganza

According to a recent report in Ad Age, the web has become a vital component of Americans’ holiday shopping schedules. Record numbers of consumers never left their homes on Black Friday, the official start of the holiday shopping season. Instead, they poured into online stores in far greater numbers than last year, according to research released by Nielsen/NetRatings. Some 9.4 million unique visitors logged on to over 100 online retailers the day after Thanksgiving — 29% more than last year’s Black Friday. While many shoppers headed out to the stores over the weekend, the majority first turned to the internet to check prices and product availability, reported Heather Dougherty, senior retail analyst, Nielsen/NetRatings.

Ebay was the top online retailer over the weekend, with 9.5 million unique visitors. Next in traffic was Amazon with 4.6 million and Wal-Mart Stores, which drew 3.4 million. Target was next with 2.9 million, and BestBuy attracted 2.1 million. These were the top online shopping destinations last year on Black Friday as well. But there were also newcomers in this year’s Top 10: Circuitcity, Dell and Shopzilla. The fastest-growing retail category online on Black Friday was toys and videogames, with a 152% week-over-week growth (daily percent change from the 18th to the 25th of November). This sector was fulled by the release of the Xbox 360 and portable game consoles. Next was consumer electronics, which climbed 142%, followed by computer hardware/software with 102% growth. Among the hottest consumer electronics and computer products this year are flat-screen TVs, iPods and other MP3 players, Dougherty said.

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