Study: Online Holiday Shopping Grows, Shopper Satisfaction Up

COLUMBUS - Online holiday shopping activity grew in 2001, according to preliminary results from consulting and market research firm Retail Forward's most recent survey of Internet users.

For the 2001 holiday season, 88 percent of Internet users reported shopping for gifts at online shopping sites, up significantly from 78 percent last year. Many of those shoppers logged on intending to purchase, with 38 percent of online shoppers saying their primary use of online shopping sites this holiday season was to purchase gifts either shopped for or found online or in catalogs.

The number of shoppers who made an online purchase, 70 percent, was slightly down from last season's 74 percent. The most common reason mentioned for not making a purchase online was the availability of better prices and deals at stores.

"Stores promoted early and heavily this holiday season due to the challenging economic environment, luring some value-conscious shoppers away from the online channel," comments Mary Brett Whitfield, director of Retail Forward's E-Retail Intelligence Program.

An impressive 72 percent of online holiday shoppers were satisfied with all of their online holiday gift shopping experiences, a dramatic improvement from 2000 when only 55% of online holiday shoppers felt the same.

Finally, 63 percent of online holiday purchasers had no problems with their online purchases during the 2001 holiday season. The most frequently identified problems were online holiday purchases not received in time for the holidays or needing to pay extra for shipping to ensure an on-time delivery (both mentioned by 15 percent of online holiday gift purchasers), followed by failing to receive adequate e-mail communications regarding order status and shipment delays (8 percent).

"As online shopping continues to evolve, only the most efficient operators can survive," remarks Whitfield. "During the 2001 holiday shopping season, efficient operators provided online shoppers with higher levels of customer service compared to prior years, helping to make online shopping more mainstream by removing some of the fear previously associated with shopping the channel."
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