Did you hear?...Holiday shoppers using Internet for gift research and purchases

Shoppers, who are expected this year to spend $791.10 each on holiday merchandise, said they plan to use the Internet for more than a quarter (28.9 percent) of their shopping, according to a new survey conducted for the National Retail Federation by BIGresearch.
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Shoppers, who are expected this year to spend $791.10 each on holiday merchandise, said they plan to use the Internet for more than a quarter (28.9 percent) of their shopping, according to a new survey conducted for the National Retail Federation by BIGresearch.

Though 47.1 percent of consumers said they plan to make at least one holiday purchase online this year, up from 36.0 percent three years ago, many will also use the Internet to browse and compare prices before heading to stores to buy. According to the survey, 88.7 percent of consumers regularly or occasionally examine products on the Internet before buying in a store.

When it comes to researching merchandise, electronics are the most popular searches -- more than a third of online shoppers (39.3 percent) said they have browsed for electronics online before buying in a store. Other popular merchandise that shoppers have recently studied online before buying in a store is apparel (20.0 percent) and shoes (16.1 percent).

Phil Rist, vice president of strategy at BIGresearch, noted that companies view the Internet as a marketing opportunity, not only a sales channel. "Retailers see their websites as the first connection they make with many consumers and will be sprucing up their sites to give holiday shoppers ideas and information on popular gifts," Rist said in a statement.

Shoppers reported that they use a variety of websites to research and compare products, such as Google.com (23.6 percent), Yahoo.com (7.2 percent), Amazon.com (5.5 percent) and eBay (3.7 percent).

The NRF 2006 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, which polled 7,623 consumers, was conducted for NRF (www.nrf.com) by BIGresearch from Oct. 4-11.

To download a full report of the survey, click here.

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