Holiday Online Spending Trends Up

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Despite the recent focus on dot-com shutdowns, holiday online spending doubled in 2000 compared to the previous year, according to surveys released last week.

That's good news for cable companies looking to add electronic-commerce revenues through portals on their high-speed Internet or interactive-television services.

But online sales give a competitive edge to direct-broadcast satellite providers, who can more easily distribute their products via national retail Web sites.

DirecTV Inc. DBS systems, for example, are sold on leading consumer-electronics sites such as bestbuy.com and roxy.com. And last month, DirecTV said it authorized online giant Amazon.com to sell its wares.

"It was our biggest holiday season ever," Amazon.com spokesman Bill Curry said last week. The electronics category stood out as one of the season's top sellers, he added. He could not say how many DirecTV systems the company sold.

Best Buy Co. Inc. spokeswoman Laurie Bauer said the bestbuy.com site scored extremely well during the holidays in terms of its number of unique visitors and the amount of time spent there, even though 2000 was its first Christmas season.

A study released last Tuesday by Goldman Sachs & Co. and PC Data reported that online holiday spending doubled compared to 1999. Those numbers were "in line with expectations," PC Data Internet analyst Cameron Meierhoefer said.

The growth can be attributed to increases in general Web usage, more people shopping online and those who do shop over the Web spending more money.

The shutdown of some shopping sites hasn't put much of a damper on overall online spending.

"You're seeing the migration of online shopping to more traditional offline retailers," Meierhoefer said. "Best Buy and Wal-Mart both had a very good season."

He added that he didn't think Amazon.com was hurt this year, but some of the smaller pure-play online shopping sites may have been.

According to separate reports from Goldman Sachs/PC Data and Media Metrix, online holiday shopping peaked earlier this past holiday than in 1999, with fewer shoppers logging on the week before Christmas.

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