Every year, more consumers opt for the convenience of online shopping during the holiday season, and there’s no denying the appeal: finding and selecting products from the comfort of your living room or a coffee shop (or, ahem workplace) and having those items gift wrapped, shipped, and guaranteed to arrive in time for the holidays for a not-always-small fee. No lines, no crowds, no rain, no snow, no fuss. Although online shopping isn’t perfect for all gift ideas—such as items which need to be hand-selected with care, or selections made too late to be shipped on time—there’s no denying the appeal, especially for mass-produced, readily available goods.
Figures from comScore Networks show more people than ever are turning on to online shopping: excluding online auctions and travel arrangements, comScore found that consumers spent some $21.7 billion at U.S. online stores between November 1 and December 20, 2006, a whopping 26 percent increase from 2005. A number which may be more significant to retailers: comScore found a 35 percent surge on online buying between December 18 and December 20, 2006 the last days consumers could buy online goods and have reasonable hope gifts would arrive by Christmas Day.
This surge reverses trends in previous years, where consumers abandoned last-minute online shopping in favor of traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, and is credited to retailers’ enhanced ability to ship items closer to the Christmas holiday and get them to their destinations on time.
Although the 2006 holiday buying season may go down as the "year of the niche retailer," many of whom were able to capitalize on search engine usage and advertising along with word-of-mouth via social networks and blogs, online mega-retailer Amazon.com reports that 2006 was its best holiday season ever: the company marked Monday, December 11, as its busiest shopping day, with customers ordering more than 4 million items. Amazon says its top computer sellers were Apple MacBook and Sony VAIO notebooks; top DVD movies were Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,Cars, and An Inconvenient Truth;; top consumer electronics items were Apple iPods, Canon Powershot Digital Elph Cameras, and Garmin GPS units; and its top video game hardware items were Nintendo DS handhelds, PlayStation 2s, and Xbox 360s. Amazon also somehow managed to sell a $19,999 Trekstor i.Beat Organix Gold 1GB MP3 player. We imagine it was a gag gift.