Niche Retailers Win In Online Poll

    November 16, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

According to a recent poll from Yahoo! Small Business, consumers will be turning to the Internet for their holiday shopping needs to offset gas prices, for increased convenience, and for hard to find items. Nearly two-thirds of holiday shoppers said niche stores were their best bets for finding unique gifts.

Conducted by Harris Interactive, the nationwide poll of 1,813 online US adults revealed that 80 percent said they are likely to purchase gifts from small online businesses. Thirty percent said they would do at least half of their holiday shopping online.

“Holiday shoppers are ready and willing to buy gifts online from small businesses that offer variety and value,” said Rich Riley, vice president and general manager of Yahoo! Small Business, the division of Yahoo! that powers more than 35,000 online stores. “The survey results are an encouraging confirmation that small business e-commerce has become an integral part of the holiday shopping experience for many consumers.”

If the price of gasoline remains high during the holiday season, nearly 4 out of 5 said they would make significant changes to their shopping habits by adjusting how much time they spend on the road.

Forty-five percent of respondents said they would make fewer shopping outings; Forty-three percent said they would shop online more; Thirty-eight percent said they’d shop at stores closer to home.

Only 4 percent said they’d spend less money to offset gas prices, though another recent study suggests that online retailers offering free shipping of products may be the deciding factor for shoppers choosing where to shop.

As for the best places to shop for unusual gifts, online specialty, niche, or boutique retailers won the support of 63 percent of those polled. Forty-five percent said local specialty shops were their first choice. While 39 percent of holiday shoppers said they preferred mail order catalogues, only 25 percent chose large chain or department stores as the best place to find unique gifts.

But it is convenience, not price, that will drive shoppers online for their holiday shopping. Seventy-five percent said that the 24-hour availability of online shops was the most appealing benefit of Internet stores. Sixty-eight percent said avoiding crowded parking lots and long lines were their chief motivations. A majority of respondents also said it was easier to find unique, distinctive, or personalized gifts online.

“These data confirm that small business retailers need to be in front of online consumers as they use the Internet to shop for products during the hectic holiday season,” said Kelsey Group analyst Greg Sterling. “Consumers clearly want what small retailers have to offer and those who can’t be found online are missing a significant potential opportunity.”