Gift Sites Feel V-Day Spark

NEW YORK With Valentine’s Day just two days away, purveyors of flowers, gifts and greetings on the Web are likely preparing for a surge in traffic from last-minute shoppers. If last year is any indication, the holiday for sweethearts should prove a critical sales period for operators of these sites.

According to comScore Media Metrix, the three weeks preceding Valentine’s Day accounted for nearly 13 percent of sales in the flowers and gifts category for the full year of 2002. Sales in the category grew 308 percent to a weekly average of $37 million in the three weeks leading up to and including Feb. 14 versus the first four weeks of 2002.

These Web sites also posted a significant traffic boost in December, helped in large part by the Christmas, Hanukah and New Year’s holidays. Nearly 34 million Internet users, or about 24 percent of the online population, visited the flowers, gifts and greetings category in December.

The category was topped by offline market leaders American Greetings and Hallmark, with 16.6 million and 9.7 million unique visitors in December, respectively. attracted nearly 3 million visitors, while tallied 2.3 million. Rounding out the top five, had 1.7 million visitors.