Study Finds 18 Mil. New E-Commerce Buyers During Holidays

NEW YORK Nearly 18 million consumers made online purchases during the 2004 holiday season, helping boost e-commerce sales 24 percent for the period, according to Jupiter Research.

In all, the research firm said 90.5 million consumers bought online in 2004, up from 72.8 million in 2003. The influx of new Web shoppers pushed holiday e-commerce sales up from $18.1 billion in 2003 to $22.1 billion in 2004. The average amount spent per customer stayed nearly constant, slipping from $248 in 2003 to $244 in 2004.

Jupiter Research expects e-commerce will continue its strong growth, rising to $79 billion in 2005, a 20 percent increase from 2004.

The study found that Christmas falling on a Sunday in 2004 gave consumers more time to shop before delivery deadlines, which many retailers set on Dec. 21 or 22. Retailers also extended their cutoff times. In all, about one in four consumers shopped online during the two weeks before Christmas.

The survey found price was the biggest motivator for first-time online shoppers. About 57 percent said low pricing would motivate them to buy from a Web site again. Similarly, 47 percent said low-cost shipping would make them return shoppers.

Jupiter Research surveyed 1,250 online shoppers.