Survey Says: Who’s Buying What Online, and When

More than half of all Americans (54%) plan to go online this holiday season to compare prices, browse, place orders, or send electronic greetings, according to the American Express Retail Index on Internet shopping. That up from 46% in 2002 and 42% in 2001.

What’s more, 31% of consumers surveyed plan to purchase gifts online this holiday season, compared with 18% last year. And 38% say they will complete their holiday shopping by mid-December, up slightly from last year’s 31%. Part of that decline in last-minute shoppers may be due to some major Internet retailers’ requiring orders to be placed by early December in order to guarantee Christmas delivery without extra charges.

A majority of Internet gift purchasers (78%) say deep discounts will motivate them. Special online sales are a deciding factor for 69%, and free delivery or gift-wrapping a motivator for 53%.