Online shopping continues to make inroads -- Gazette.Net


In the first 18 days of this year’s holiday season, online spending nationally is up 16 percent to $10.1 billion from the same period last year, according to figures released Wednesday by data company ComScore.

That’s in line with projections by ComScore to see online holiday shopping through Dec. 31 increase 17 percent from last year’s holiday season. The National Retail Federation has forecast a 12 percent jump in holiday online spending this year to $96 billion.

The online growth is a key factor driving bricks-and-mortar retailers to open their doors as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening to lure Black Friday shoppers, said Patrick Donoho, president of the Maryland Retailers Association.

“People are sitting at home shopping on Thanksgiving Day,” Donoho said. “Retailers are just trying to compete.”

Merchants who historically relied on store sales are finding more revenues on the Web. Hampstead retailer JoS. A. Bank Clothiers, which sells suits, dress shirts and other men’s clothing, has seen direct marketing sales rise 20 percent in the first half this year over last year.

“We continue the attempt to drive additional revenue through our Internet website,” CEO R. Neal Black said in a recent conference call. “These efforts include product expansions, new promotional activity, international shipping, mobile formats and social marketing in conjunction with our ongoing affiliate programs.”

Cyber Monday, the day after the Thanksgiving weekend when online sales tend to jump, also is expected to be busier this year. Some 85 percent of companies will offer promotions on Cyber Monday, up from 78 percent last year, according to a survey by BIGinsight for the retail federation.

Consumers want the convenience and comparison ability that online shopping provides, Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, said in a media conference call. Conventional retailers have responded by increasing their online presence and putting Black Friday deals on their websites earlier, he said.

“The move is to a completely integrated shopping experience,” Shay said.

Some customers will comparison shop on their mobile devices in stores after looking at products there, he said. They will sometimes then buy online, either at through that store’s website or a different store’s, Shay said.

“They may not want to wait in line to buy the item at the store, or they may want it shipped to their home,” he said.

More retailers nationally are promoting Black Friday deals through mobile alerts. Some 29 percent of retailers in the BIGinsight survey said they will use mobile alerts this holiday season, up from 18 percent a year ago.