Holiday online jewelry sales more than double

Jewelry was by far the fastest growing online sales category for the 2004 holiday shopping season, growing 113% to $1.9 billion during the season compared to the $888 million spent in 2003, according to the latest holiday eSpending Report from Goldman, Sachs & Co., Harris Interactive, and Nielsen//NetRatings.

The 2004 eSpending report revealed that online shoppers in the U.S. spent $23.2 billion during the 2004 holiday season, excluding travel. This reflects a 25% increase from the $18.5 billion spent online during the same timeframe in 2003.

The report, based on weekly surveys of more than 1,000 respondents, revealed that online consumers spent the most on apparel/clothing, totaling $3.8 billion, or 16% of total online revenue, during the 2004 holiday season. The toys/video games category was second with $2.5 billion, or 11% of online revenue, while the consumer electronics category rounded out the top three with $2.3 billion, or 10% of total online revenue.

In addition to jewelry, categories generating the highest year-over-year growth in holiday dollars, flowers and computer hardware/peripherals. Floral retailers experienced a 59% surge in online revenue to $530 million while computer hardware/peripherals increased 30% over last season, generating $2.1 billion in online revenue this year.

“Online shopping contributed significantly to overall 2004 holiday sales by attracting consumers through a broad product selection,” said Heather Dougherty, senior retail analyst, Nielsen//NetRatings. “Consumers have become accustomed to purchasing online over the years and look to the Internet to find comprehensive product information, competitive prices, and easy gift delivery allowing them to have more time to spend on other holiday activities.”

The report showed that overall, the majority of online consumers were satisfied with this season’s Web shopping experience: 37% were very satisfied and 24% were somewhat satisfied. In addition, 30% of respondents felt this year’s online shopping was better than last year.

Several factors contributed to the success of online shopping in the 2004 holiday season. Similar to last year, the 2004 eSpending report indicated that 36% of respondents cited a preference to avoid crowds as the top reason to buy online rather than visit a store. Thirty-six percent also cited finding a lower price online was the reason they took to online shopping, while a wide product selection rounded out the top three reasons with 33%.