E-commerce received a seasonal boost with online shoppers in the US spending $23.2bn during the 2004 Christmas period, excluding travel.
The latest eSpending Report from Goldman Sachs, Harris Interactive and Nielsen//NetRatings said that the figure represents a 25 per cent increase from the $18.5bn spent online during the same period in 2003.
The 2004 report, based on weekly surveys of more than 1,000 respondents, found that online consumers spent the most on clothing, totalling $3.8bn or 16 per cent of total online revenue, during the holiday season.
The toys/video games category was second with $2.5bn, or 11 per cent of online revenue, while the consumer electronics category completed the top three with $2.3bn, or 10 per cent of total online revenue.
Categories generating the highest year-over-year growth in holiday spending included jewellery, flowers and computer hardware/peripherals.
Jewellery jumped 113 per cent to $1.9bn compared to $888m in 2003, floral retailers saw a 59 per cent surge in online revenue to $530m, while computer hardware/peripherals increased 30 per cent to $2.1bn.
"Online shopping contributed significantly to overall 2004 holiday sales by attracting consumers through a broad product selection," said Heather Dougherty, senior retail analyst at Nielsen//NetRatings.
"Consumers have become accustomed to purchasing online over the years and look to the internet to find comprehensive product information, competitive prices and easy gift delivery allowing them more time to spend on other holiday activities."
The report also indicated that the majority of online consumers were 'satisfied' with this season's web shopping experience: 37 per cent said they were 'very satisfied' and 24 per cent were 'somewhat satisfied'. Around 30 per cent felt that this year's online shopping was 'better than last year's'.
Several factors contributed to the success of online shopping in the 2004 holiday season, according to the study. Over a third of respondents cited a preference to avoid crowds as the top reason to buy online rather than visit a store.
Over 35 per cent cited finding a lower price online as the reason they took to online shopping, while a wide product selection rounded out the top three reasons with 33 per cent.
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