Online Retail Soars as Cyber Monday Approaches

    November 21, 2006

The Department of Commerce reports that online retail sales in the third quarter grew at four times the rate of total retail sales. In total, online retail sales in the third quarter reached $27.5 billion, which represents a 20.9% increase over the third quarter in 2005. In comparison, total offline retail sales for the third quarter 2006 are only up 5.1% from a year ago.

The holiday season is upon us, and with it the inevitable purchasing madness that grips consumers like a narcotic addiction while merchants shout with glee as visions of dollar signs dance in their head.

The familiar “cha-ching” of the cash register and token chit-chat with the check out clerk, however, is being replace by a much more docile shopping method this year.

Point. Click. Checkout.

Online commerce is growing at an exponential rate, and the 2006 holiday rush shows no indication of that trend will slow down. An AOL Shopping/Zogby Poll reports that 80% of American web users plan to buy gifts online this holiday season. The following is an except from the poll’s findings:

Several issues factor into why Internet users shop online during the holiday season. Nearly three in five (58%) stated online shopping saves time, while 32% say they enjoy the ease of comparison shopping. Another 29% said they found gift items online that are not available in local stores, while 24% cited the value of free shipping. Online sales promotions and easy last minute shopping also garnered support (17% each). Surprisingly, considering concerns about high gas prices, only 9% stated they shop online to save money at the pump.

“As the internet becomes more accessible and easier to use, increasing numbers of people utilize it to carry out tasks online, including making purchases,” said Sarath Samarasekera, CEO of, a web service that powers over 1,500 e-stores across the country.

“Recent years have seen a marked improvement for online sales and we anticipate the upcoming holiday shopping season to reflect that trend”

Of course, online retail does come with its own share of drawbacks. Shoppers will miss out on the exciting opportunity to wake up at 4:30 a.m. and engage in sumo-style wrestling matches with deranged parents over vital-to-life products such as the crock pot that comes with a clock radio and the latest Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers action figures.

Hmm, maybe there’s a reason this online retail thing is taking off after all.

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Joe is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.