More shoppers look to Web, catalogs this holiday

About 37% of U.S. consumers planned to do more shopping online and by catalog this holiday season than last year, according to a recent study by Market Facts, commissioned by FedEx Corp.

The survey of 1,000 consumers, conducted Nov. 26-28, found that 63% of consumers cited convenience and reliability, such as time-definite delivery, easy returns, and package tracking, as the benefits they value most when shopping from catalogs or the Web. The study also found that 73% of Americans planned to ship more gifts this year than in the past.

In fact, online traffic for the week ended Dec. 9 was up 50% from the comparable week of last year, according to Jupiter Media Metrix. Jupiter’s weekly holiday e-commerce report aggregates Web visitors from home and work to about 500 shopping sites. With 52.4 million visitors during the week ended Dec. 9, traffic was up 1% from the previous week, when there were 51.7 million visitors.

The top-gaining shopping categories include healthcare, which saw a 56% rise in year-over-year traffic for the week, to 961,000 average daily visitors; consumer goods, which increased 27% ,to 1.2 million average daily visitors; and flowers/gifts/greetings, which increased 23%, to 1.7 million average daily visitors. The top gaining sites from the previous week were, where traffic increased 228%, to 475,000 average daily visitors, and, with a 219% increase, to 443,000 visitors.