Five hundred shopping sites drew a total of 49.9 million unique visitors in the week through Dec. 23, up 57 percent from 31.8 million in the same period last year, according to Jupiter Media Metrix.
Many of these visitors were looking for last-minute bargains, the New York market researcher said. Flowers/gifts/greetings and computers were the most popular categories.
Most-visited sites included 1800flowers.com, Vistaprint.com, movietickets.com, got2goshop.com, pulsetv.com, Hallmark.com, AmericanGreetings.com, 800.com, Blockbuster.com and cooking.com.
Though many visitors expected last-minute bargains, all they found were higher express delivery charges.
“With the recent surge of holiday shopping promotions available on the Internet and in stores, consumers were hoping that desperate retailers would offer up last-minute sales,” Jared Blank, a Jupiter analyst, said in a statement. “Most of those consumers that did just ended up with higher shopping bills.”
Separately, comparison-shopping service BizRate.com said online retail spending this Nov. 19 through Dec. 26 holiday season rose 36 percent to $6.6 billion. The Los Angeles company said this figure was $238 million more than its original holiday forecast of a 31 percent increase for the season.
Not only were online shoppers buying more but spending per individual was up, BizRate said. Average order sizes rose 13 percent to $126.77 from $112.13 in holiday 2000.