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Online Christmas season a success

Value-oriented sites were among the fastest growing e-tailers for the holiday 2001 season, according to the Nielsen//NetRatings Holiday eCommerce Index.

Columbia House headed the list, as consumers conducted more than 25 million shopping trips at the site in November and December 2001, surging 219 percent since last year. Fingerhut.com claimed the No. 2 spot, jumping 144 percent to eight million visits, while Overstock.com grew 107 percent to nearly 13 million.

Traffic to consumer electronics and PC manufacturers also grew year over year, as sites such as OfficeDepot.com, Apple.com, BestBuy.com, HPO.com and CircuitCity.com attracted more shopping visits during the 2001 online holiday season.

Amazon.com continued to be a popular destination among surfers, drawing more shopping visits during the holidays.

Computer hardware was the first category to peak, jumping 19 percent during the week ending Nov. 11, while consumer electronics and shopping aggregators increased 91 percent and 76 percent, respectively, during the week ending Dec. 2. Conversely, specialty gifts was the final category to experience market growth, skyrocketing 198 percent during the week ending Dec. 23.

Four categories peaked during the week ending Dec. 9: toys and games; value-oriented sites; apparel; and the virtual department stores categories drew many shoppers looking to beat the shipping deadlines.

After-Christmas online shopping tapered off more slowly this season, as surfers continued to log on after the holidays to take advantage of post-Christmas sales. Shopping trips to the top e-tailers declined nearly 16 percent from the week ending Dec. 23 to the week ending Dec. 30, as compared to a 27 percent decline during the same period a year ago.

Fastest growing e-tailers, based on total shopping trips
(U.S. combined home and work) (x000)

Rank Site/Property Nov./Dec. '00 Nov./Dec. '01 % change
Source: Nielsen/Net Ratings, December 2001
a) Amazon.com includes Toysrus.com traffic
1. Columbia House 7.958 25,386 219
2. Fingerhut.com 3,300 8,051 144
3. Overstock.com 6,215 12,894 107
4. OfficeDepot.com 5,222 10,003 92
5. Apple.com 10,322 17,642 71
6. BestBuy.com 13,735 22,389 63
7. HP.com 17,043 26,067 53
8. Staples.com 5,609 8,509 52
9. Amazon.coma 133,197 198,822 49
10. CircuitCity.com 6,346 8,950 41


Holiday eCommerce Index based on total shopping trips

Rank Categories Category Peak Week % growth
Source: Nielsen/Netratings, November and December 2001
Note: This index is composed of five representative sites in each category and is meant to act as a barometer to gauge the level of interest in e-commerce sites during the holiday season. A visit is a single trip to a shopping site. Percent change was calculated using the last full week in October as a shopping baseline.
1. Specialty gifts Week ending Dec. 23 198
2. Toys & names Week ending Dec. 9 129
3. Home and garden Week ending Dec. 16 95
4. Consumer electronics Week ending Dec. 2 91
5. Apparel Week ending Dec. 9 85
6. Shopping aggregators Week ending Dec. 2 76
7. Virtual department stores Week ending Dec. 9 59
8. Books/music/video Week ending Dec. 16 40
9. Value-oriented sites Week ending Dec. 9 34
10. Computer hardware Week ending Nov. 11 19


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