Nielsen: Online Holiday Shopping Season Begins

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Christmas may indeed have come a little early for online retailers, according to a new survey.


In an ongoing study of Internet audience measurement, the week ending Nov. 11 showed a 14 percent rise in traffic over the last full week in October, according to Nielsen//NetRatings, which yesterday debuted its third annual Holiday eCommerce Index.


Last holiday season, Web traffic jumped 10 percent between comparable weeks.


While the survey showed increased shopping across almost all categories, toy sites appeared to be the big winners, with a 66 percent uptick. ToysRUs.com, which is run by Internet giant Amazon.com, saw a 68 percent boost in traffic while Lego.com rose 51 percent and KBToys.com traffic climbed 27 percent.


Other growth categories were home and garden (40.5 percent), computer hardware (18.9 percent) and consumer electronics (15.4 percent). Only the books/music/video category showed a decline, 3.3 percent.


Sean Kaldor, vice president of analytical services at NetRatings, said sales and marketing promotions such as free shipping would play a large role in the upcoming holiday season.


"Amid an economic downturn, e-tailers are turning to tried and proven marketing strategies to attract consumers to the online channel," Kaldor said.


Internet stalwarts such as Amazon, Target.com and Barnes & Noble have already offered free shipping, Kaldor said.


The survey consists of five representative sites in each category and is meant to act as a barometer of the interest level at e-commerce sites over the holidays.


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