Pew: E-Mail Now a Holiday Staple

E-mail is increasingly an integral part of American holiday planning and celebrating, according to a report released yesterday by Pew Internet and American Life Project, Washington.

Seventy-eight percent of Internet users reported some holiday-related e-mail activity this season, the study found. Forty-eight percent of e-mail users sent or received holiday plans electronically, up from 42 percent last year. Also, one in six, or nearly 20 million people, were e-mailing back and forth with family and friends about the holidays on any given day, Pew's report said.

The survey, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates from Nov. 25 to Dec. 22, was of 2,038 adults, 1,220 of whom were current Internet users. Of the non-users, about one in six have had access but dropped out for some reason, Pew said.

In other findings, 11 percent of Internet users went online to make travel plans. Also in the Pew survey, 46 percent of online Americans used the Internet to look for gifts this year. Broadband users were more likely to window-shop online than dialup users, as 60 percent of broadband users did so compared with 41 percent of dialup users.

Eighty-three percent of Internet users have gone online to research a product or service at one time or another, according to the survey. This is up from 73 percent in mid-2000, when Pew last posed the question.

Not surprisingly, three-quarters of those surveyed cited convenience and saving time as the main benefit of online shopping, the Pew report said. Fifty-one percent said finding an unusual or hard-to-find gift was a major reason, and 31 percent cited saving money.

Six percent of the Internet users reported creating online “wish lists” to help loved ones shop for them.

In other findings, while 90 percent of the Internet users said they bought gifts online from home, 33 percent said they made online gift purchases from their workstations, up from 31 percent a year ago. Younger users were more inclined to use their work computers to shop, as 42 percent of those younger than 30 who bought gifts online this season said they did so from work compared with 22 percent of those older than 50.

Also, the longer a person has been online, the more likely he is to use his work computer to shop online. Thirty-seven percent of those with six or more years of online experience who bought gifts online this season reported doing so from work, while 6 percent of their counterparts with less than a year of Internet experience said they did so.

Online auction activity rose dramatically, the report found. Twenty-four million U.S. Internet users, or 22 percent of the online population, have participated in an online auction.

Also, the number of daily auction participants reportedly has more than doubled since mid-2000. About 4.5 million Internet users were involved in an online auction on any given day in December compared with less than 2 million in June 2000, when Pew last posed the question, the group said.

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