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Video Helps to Boost Record Holiday Online Spending

31 Dec, 2003 By: Holly J. Wagner

Online merchants fared better than ever during the 2003 holiday spending season, with foul weather and crowded malls fueling the online migration, analysts are reporting.

Although it will be weeks before brick-and-mortar sales stats are in, e-tailers can mine their operations almost immediately to measure sales. Credit card companies, too, can generate data from speedily reported electronic transactions.

“The winter storms that hit the East Coast disrupted several key shopping weekends this season, likely keeping some shoppers at home and contributing to the growth of online sales,” said a report from consumer credit and payment company Visa.

“Today's time-strapped consumer may not always have the opportunity to dedicate an entire day to holiday shopping,” said Scott Silverman, executive director of Shop.org, the online division of the National Retail Federation. “Because online shopping is so quick and convenient, online retailers are proving themselves to be a great alternative to shopping at the mall.”

Holiday shoppers planned to do 20.5 percent of their shopping online this year, up from 16.4 percent last year, according to a Nielsen//NetRatings report.

Online sales growth in the video/DVD category was up a phenomenal 89 percent from last year, with a projected $1.214 million in online revenue, the report said. By comparison, the 35 percent growth in online sales of clothing is a distant second. In consumer electronics, one of the earliest categories to take hold at e-tail, sales growth was a mere 12 percent, with projected revenue of $1.375 million. Toys and video games are measured as one category, which was up 27 percent from 2002, with projected revenue of $1.576 million.

Consumers logged onto the Internet in record numbers between Nov. 28 and Dec. 28, 2003, with online purchases on Visa cards increasing 48.9 percent compared with the 2002 holiday season, Visa reported. The total dollar volume for Visa purchases online exceeded $7.6 billion, the highest four-week amount in Visa's history, according to the company.

Amazon.com reported its busiest holiday season ever and even set a new single-day record for worldwide transactions, with 2.1 million.

“Video/DVD sales were dominated by the big-name movie series (new and old),” said an Amazon statement. “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers gift set, The Matrix Reloaded, Terminator 3 and The Adventures of Indiana Jones set were all in the top 10.”

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