Gas savings prompt more online spending

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Consumers have increased the amount of money they are spending online in part as a way to save on gas, according to a new report released by Decision Direct Research, the marketing research division of Millard Group Inc.

The survey of 55,000 consumers showed that 19 percent of respondents have "significantly" increased their online spending over the past year and another 39 percent report that their spending has increased "slightly."

When asked why they increased their Internet shopping, "saves gas" posted an increase of 13 points over 2006 while "saves time" increased by six points.

However, while consumers are shopping the Internet more regularly, they are less likely to recommend the Web site they just shopped from compared to three years ago. One reason may be frustration with out-of-stock situations, according to Decision Direct, Peterborough, NH. Between 2004 and 2007, the number of respondents giving Internet retailers scores of "excellent" and "good" for product availability dropped from 85 percent to 76 percent. Scores for "good value for the money" continue to slip as well.

The report reflects a shift in how online buyers access a retail Web site as well. In 2005, 24 percent of the respondents indicated that it was "the receipt of a link from the merchant" that prompted them to go to a site. By 2007, this number increased to 38 percent.

The use of search engines decreased from 15 percent of respondents to 13 percent during the same period; bookmarks from 25 percent to 20 percent; and entering a URL address directly from 32 percent to 24 percent.

The number of respondents reporting that they visited the Web site when they received an e-mail promotion increased from 45 percent in 2005 to 62 percent in 2007.

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