December 30, 2005


Internet Sales Show Big Gains Over Holidays (MICHAEL BARBARO, 12/30/05, NY Times)

Online retailers, whose growth was expected to level off after a decade of dizzying gains, experienced a stellar holiday season, according to two preliminary reports released yesterday, as traditional stores like Wal-Mart and Target cemented their place on the Web.

Consumer spending online reached $18.1 billion in November and December, a 25 percent increase over 2004, according to the research firm ComScore Networks.

Nielsen/NetRatings, another research firm, said Web purchases totaled $30.1 billion in the period, an increase of 30 percent. Unlike ComScore, Nielsen includes spending at online auction sites like eBay, accounting for its higher figure.

Online commerce still represents less than 6 percent of all retail sales, but the numbers indicate that it has finally become part of mainstream American shopping.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 30, 2005 8:38 AM


I'd say the online retail sales figure is conservative. The growing number of "clicks and mortar" shops are probably not reflected in that estimate. For example, many retailers function largely as showrooms for their wares. Customers come, browse, and make a selection. Then the salesperson goes to a terminal, places the order, which the customer receives within a day or two. It's a quasi-digital transaction. In effect, one is going somewhere in order to go online.

This model is especially appealing for furniture and other large items, but even small stuff can get the same treatment. The benefit for the retailer is lower inventory on hand. The consumer has less to carry.

Pure online purchasing is dandy for stuff you don't need to try out or handle or have right away, like books, digital cameras, and flash memory sticks to name a few. However, the oftimes pleasurable experience of shopping by "going to the store" is not losing its appeal, except for folks like oj, who, presumably, have to go out to the barn, saddle the horse, etc., while sniffing disdainfully at folks using other forms of transport. Not everyone is ready for life in Edward Bellamy's "Looking Backward" cocoon.

All best,


Posted by: Ed Bush at December 30, 2005 9:48 AM


Why leave the house at all?

Posted by: oj at December 30, 2005 11:42 AM

Ebay'd a Daphne Barbie.

Got squeals of delight.

It was correct to be included.

Posted by: Sandy P at December 30, 2005 12:18 PM

"Why leave the house at all?"

Bellamy did not think there was a reason, either.


Posted by: Ed Bush at December 30, 2005 12:32 PM

The bulk of my shopping is done on the net since it's so easy to get fast price comparisons.

Only things I actually go to a shop for are clothing, gas, groceries, video game rentals and comic books.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at December 30, 2005 1:54 PM


What, you don't use Netflix?

Otherwise you largely made my point. Sometimes you need or want to see and touch an item in person -- a pair of pants, a tomato.

I did not go into stuff you must be present to purchase, such as gas. But fear not, oj will wean you from purchasing it at all for the greater mass-transit good. Or else.

All best,


Posted by: Ed Bush at December 30, 2005 2:34 PM


A pair of pants? Don't get all metrosexual on us....

Posted by: oj at December 30, 2005 2:38 PM

"i feel pretty"

Posted by: toe at December 30, 2005 6:38 PM