Jupiter Research, the worldwide authority on Internet commerce, estimates that 6.3 million US residents will spend more than 50 per cent of their holiday budget online this year - an increase of 294 per cent from 1999 when only 1.6 million spent the majority of their budget shopping online.

And Media Metrix today revealed a 12-month audience measurement trend showing that the proportion of visitors to shopping sites throughout 2000 already resembles the holiday season of 1999. Media Metrix's 12-month audience ratings trend indicates that nearly the same proportion of online users visited retail sites in August 2000 as did in December 1999, 74.9 per cent and 73.3 per cent, respectively.

Jupiter Research estimates that a total of 35 million people in the US will purchase gifts online this holiday season, versus 20 million who shopped online last year. This increase in consumers' online spending contributes to the overall rise in dollars spent online this season, $11.6bn in November and December 2000 up from $7.0bn during the same period last year.

This holiday season, although books, toys, and music will remain among the top products that consumers purchase online, a surprisingly large number of shoppers will purchase clothing or shoes over the Net - items they traditionally prefer to seen, touch or try on.

"Consumers are likely to purchase clothing and shoes online this holiday season because they are desirable gifts, and this year, a greater number of sites are offering a large selection of brand-name apparel," said Jupiter Research senior analyst, Ken Cassar.

"While online shoppers are price-conscious, they will primarily be driven by the need to save time and avoid crowds," added Cassar. "Merchants must not discount themselves out of business, particularly when other factors can motivate consumers. This year, many merchants are planning to offer free or discounted shipping, free gifts with purchase, and other discounts such as promotions, but implementing such promotions could turn into a costly mistake.

Merchants must balance consumers' desire for promotions and discounts while keeping an eye on their bottom line."

Online versus brick-and-mortar brands
Most online holiday shoppers (79 per cent) plan to spend at least 10 per cent of their total 2000 holiday budget online; 18 per cent expect to spend over 50 per cent of their holiday shopping dollars on the Internet this season, according to Jupiter analysts. Last year, however, according to Media Metrix, more visitors went to online-only retailers as opposed to brick-and-mortar retailers with websites (55 per cent and 45 per cent, respectively, among the top 100 retail destinations in December 2000).

"This year, we predict that online retailers with brick-and-mortar origins will dominate in terms of number of visitors and, most important, in terms of transactions," concluded Cassar.

"The 1999 holiday season was the unofficial debut for many online retailers, and the fact that almost three of four web users visited a retail site last December indicates a widespread eagerness to use the Internet as an alternative to on-site holiday gift shopping," said Anne Rickert, measurement analyst, Media Metrix.

About Jupiter Research
Jupiter Research, a Jupiter Media Metrix company, is an authority on e-commerce, providing strategic analysis and insight to give businesses a competitive advantage in the complex and rapidly changing Internet economy. Jupiter Research provides its business-to-business and business-to-consumer clients with comprehensive views of industry trends, accurate forecasts and today's best practices, all backed by proprietary and industry standard data. Jupiter Research services cover broad business issues and industry and region-specific topics, providing written analysis, supportive data and access to expert analysts. Visit us at www.jup.com for more information.

About Media Metrix
Media Metrix, a Jupiter Media Metrix Company, is the leader and pioneer in Internet and Digital Media measurement and the industry's source for the most comprehensive, reliable, and timely audience, e-commerce and technology measurement services. The company provides the most comprehensive coverage of all Digital Media including more than 25,000 websites and online properties. Media Metrix uses its patented operating-system metering methodology to track Internet and Digital Media audience usage behaviour in real-time - click-by-click, page-by-page, minute-by-minute. Today, Media Metrix has a representative sample of more than 100,000 people under measurement and covers more than 85 per cent of Internet usage worldwide. Visit us at www.mediametrix.com for more information.