Last-minute shoppers give e-tailers big boost


Dec. 30, 2001


Many online merchants are feeling a jingle in their pocket from higher-than-expected Internet sales.

The hot gift items this year -- PlayStation 2, GameCube and Xbox game consoles, and anything connected with Harry Potter among them -- were strong sellers as shoppers who couldn't find items turned to the Internet for their purchases.

BizRate, a comparison shopping Web site that surveys more than 1,500 stores and retail chains, reported online sales were up by 36 percent this year over last.

Online retailers offered incentives like free or discounted shipping. Some online stores with real-world stores allowed shoppers to buy online and then pick up the items at a nearby store, thereby avoiding any shipping delay.

BizRate reports the holiday sales from Nov. 19 to Christmas totaled about $6.4 billion. That figure is supported by Jupiter Media Metrix's new survey that show e-commerce Web sites were some of the most popular spots on the Internet during the same period.

Jupiter's Top 20 most popular holiday shopping Web sites included some of the biggest e-commerce sites, including,,,,,,,, and

And in the post-holiday period, online retailers are using the same technique offline retailers use to clear excess inventory -- discount sales. has an entire section of its Web site devoted to post-holiday sales, with links to the clearance areas of major retailers' sites.

Clearly, online shopping hasn't replaced the shopping experience, but some e-tailers are learning what it takes to attract and keep customers.

And even if Web sites aren't actually selling products, manufacturers are seeing the benefit of putting their products online so potential customers can do their research before making a purchase.

PALM NEWS. If you own a Palm or like me, received one at Christmas, you may be pleased to hear that Palm has released a public beta version of its Palm Desktop Software 4 for the Mac OS X operating system.

The older versions of the Palm software for Macs works with Mac OS X, but the new program was created to work specifically with the latest Apple operating system.

Users can download the Palm software at no charge, though they must first complete a questionnaire.

As with all beta software, Palm offers no technical support or warranty. There may still be bugs in the software, but users can report problems to Palm via a feedback form.

FUND-RAISER FALLS SHORT. has ended its Auction for America fund-raiser well short of its goal.

EBay's goal was to raise $100 million in 100 days for the families of those who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

EBay users were encouraged to donate the proceeds of auction items to the fund-raising effort -- and many people did, totaling $7 million dollars in all, and including corporate sponsors that included AOL Time Warner, Microsoft and Pepsi.

EBay started the fund-raiser just days after the attack in response to New York Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Rudy Giuliani's calls for help for victims and their families.

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