Survey Says Sales Shift to Online Continues

Online sales continue to grow and certain product categories remain popular among consumers despite a challenging economy, according to Epsilon Targeting’s Annual Multichannel Trend Report.

The percentage of sales taking place online has grown by 30% over the last four years with 8% growth in the most recent year alone. Average dollar per online transaction has also steadily increased over the last four years. In addition, online sales showed the strongest growth across all Census Divisions – in most regions online was the only channel with growth.

Average sale and spend per household declined in 2008 from 2007 for all channels except the online channel. Although the rural buyers preferred to purchase through call centers, both urban and rural buyers make a large share of their recorded transactions online.

Across all channels, 2008 sales declined 3% over the prior year due to a combination of fewer active buying households, lower frequency of purchase and lower average sales. In an early glimpse at the first quarter of 2009, sales are declining over previous first quarters.

Business-to-consumer multichannel buyers continue to play an integral role, representing 67% of total repeat buyers with the highest spend and transactions per household.

Sales trends varied significantly by product category in 2008, ranging from lifts of 19% to declines of 30%. The top five growing categories were high-ticket men’s and women’s apparel (19%), shoes (14%), women’s active wear (14%), senior health hard goods (13%) and environmental/New Age (10%).

The categories that saw the greatest declines were meats and seafood (-30%), mid-ticket gifts and merchandise (-29%), professional business merchandise (-28%), high-ticket bed, bath and linens (-22%) and country/rural home decor and gifts (-18%).

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