Online holiday shoppers spent a record $US18.5 billion this holiday season, excluding travel, up 35% from the $13.7 billion spent during the 2002 holiday season, according to an eSpending report by Goldman Sachs & Co, Harris Interactive and Nielsen/NetRatings.
"Online retailers have enjoyed a fantastic season in 2003," Abha Bhagat, a senior analyst at Nielsen/NetRatings, said in a statement. "This is the third straight season of record growth, which indicates retailers are doing a much better job of appealing to customers through online channels as well as successfully integrating various channels to reach out to customers effectively."
The figures are down slightly from an earlier eSpending report released just before Christmas, when retailers reported online sales were up 46 % over 2002.
The top five categories for the season were apparel, toys/video games, consumer electronics, computer hardware/peripherals, and videos/DVDs, according to the report, which was released yesterday.
Online shoppers spent $3.8 billion on apparel this season, a 40 % increase from 2002, according to the report. They spent $2.2 billion on toys and video games (including both hardware and software), up 33 %.
Consumer electronics were popular this season, too, with Internet shoppers spending $2 billion, up 2 % year over year. Online shoppers spent $1.7 billion on computer hardware/peripherals and $1.6 billion on videos/DVDs, up 46 %.
Consumers this season were also more satisfied with their online shopping experiences than they were last year, according to the report.
During the 2003 shopping season, 63 % of online shoppers were satisfied with their overall shopping experience, a 5 % increase from 2002, while 7 % indicated they were dissatisfied, a 1 % decrease from 2002, according to the report.
Shoppers also reported very few serious problems when ordering online and spent more of their total shopping budget online this season.
"As more people turn to the Internet to do their holiday shopping, they are finding the online shopping experience to be a positive one," said Lori Iventosch-James, director of e-commerce research at Harris Interactive in Rochester, New York "During the 2003 holiday season, online retailers have gone the extra mile to meet customer expectations and that's reflected in the higher level of satisfaction, the relatively small number of serious problems reported and the increase in online spending as a percentage of total holiday spending."
The eSpending report was based on a weekly national survey of 800 to 1,700 online shoppers randomly chosen from Harris Interactive's online panel of survey respondents. The holiday season summary data is based on more than 9,500 responses in November and December.