Armed with phones, holiday shoppers flock online
By Andy Goldberg Dec 18, 2010, 10:47 GMT
San Francisco - Jennifer Toledo was doing all her holiday shopping on Friday and the fact that it was pouring outside did not bother her in the slightest.
From the comfort of her cozy San Francisco apartment, the 34-year- old party planner window-shopped online at all her favourite web stores, used price comparison features to find the best deals for the things she liked and rubbed her hands with glee as she took advantage of the special bargain offered by thousands of US retailers - free shipping Friday on all purchases.
'At this point, I can't imagine why anyone would actually want to go shopping the old way unless they are masochists, or just like the feeling of wasting their time and money,' she said. 'Shopping online is cheaper, easier, and for geeks like me, way more fun.'
That may be true, but online shopping is far from limited to youthful geeks alone.
According to new data from the Pew Research Centre's Internet and American Life Project, 66 per cent of adult web surfers now shop online, with this highest proportion of web buyers found among older baby boomers aged 56 to 64 years.
They have been helping drive a frenetic rise in the level of online retail action from the very first day of the shopping season. According to an IBM study, online sales were up an impressive 19.4 per cent on so-called Cyber Monday, compared to 2009.
Other data reinforces that finding. According to web traffic firm ComScore, the 22 billion dollars spent online in the first 40 days of the shopping season was up 12 per cent from last year. This compares to an overall retail increase of a more modest 3.3 per cent for the year.
Online retail research firm Compete reported that online holiday spending has, for the first time, even surpassed traditional retail spending.
One big reason for that is the growing prominence of mobile shopping, in which savvy consumers get the best of both worlds - the tangible benefit of actually touching goods, and the instant price comparison offered in the latest smartphones.
This year mobile commerce will more than double, going to 3.4 billion dollars from 1.4 billion dollars last year, according to a new report from ABI Research.
The research found that 49 per cent of smartphone owners in the United States intended to use their device to purchase something or compare prices, much like the man recently profiled in the Wall Street Journal, who went shopping at a big box electronics store, found the device he wanted, scanned its the barcode with his smartphone and then ordered it online - saving 30 per cent on the spot.
Such retail tactics are here to stay, said ABI researcher Marc Beccue. 'It's amazing because I think that retailers said we can't ignore this, we need to take advantage of it. I've come to the conclusion that retailers in the US are coming into an amazing era of creativity,' he told Media Life Magazine.