Shoppers Continue to Shift Purchases Online

NEW YORK American consumers will continue to shift their gift buying online this holiday season, citing convenience, time saving and price, according to Nielsen Online.

Amid the current economic downturn, 53 percent of consumers cite price as a reason to buy online, compared with 46 percent last year. However, convenience continues to trump price as 76 percent of consumers cite the ability to shop 24 hours a day and 74 percent mentioned time saving as key factors for choosing online shopping.

The results are based on a Nielsen Online survey, conducted Nov. 6-11, intended to gauge online consumers’ holiday shopping plans for 2008.

Survey results indicate that holiday gift budgets are shifting online. Respondents said that they would spend an increased percentage of their holiday shopping budget online, an average of 41 percent compared to 39 percent last year. And more respondents indicated that they would spend the majority of their holiday gift budgets online, up to 36 percent from 32 percent a year ago.

More consumers plan to make purchases in the toys and video games and books categories this holiday season than last. The top three retailers when ranked by the year-over-year increase in respondents intending to shop there this season were: Amazon, Wal-Mart and Barnes & Noble.

“We believe holiday online sales will grow from 2007, but likely at a single-digit rate and representing the smallest increase we’ve seen since the online commerce market was born,” said Ken Cassar, vice president of industry insights, Nielsen Online. “If there is a silver lining, it is that consumers continue to view the online channel’s principal value proposition as convenience, more than price, allowing retailers the opportunity to differentiate on service and selection.”