February 15, 2001

The National Retail Federation (NRF) and Forrester Research, Inc., in conjunction with Greenfield Online, announced the results of the latest NRF/Forrester Online Retail Index. According to the 13th survey in this monthly series, total spending on online sales decreased from $6.1 billion in December to $3 billion in January. The number of households online dropped from nearly 20 million in December to 13.3 million in January. They spent an average of $228 per person in January, compared with $308 in December.

Toys and videogames experienced the largest decrease, falling from nearly $600 million in December to $125 million in January. Food and beverages, flowers, jewelry, and apparel also experienced significant declines. Consumers spent $88 million online in January on food and beverages, down from $336 million in December. Online sales of flowers dropped to $36 million in January, from $107 million in December. Jewelry diminished to $62 million in January from $179 million, while apparel fell to $178 million in January from $501 million (see Figure 1).

“The 50% decline in online consumer spending in January is exactly what we would expect of the post-holiday season -- not a reflection of how consumers feel about shopping on the Internet,” said James L. McQuivey, research director at Forrester. “Being able to shop for deals anytime in a bathrobe from the couch will keep the online shopping industry alive and kicking for as long as there is a World Wide Web.”

“These numbers reflect the evolution of the online shopping channel, which is developing its own unique cycles,” said Tracy Mullin, president and CEO at NRF. “Online retailers’ increased understanding of these cylces will allow them to better tailor their businesses to satisfy their customers, which will in turn allow for continued overall growth.”

The NRF/Forrester Online Retail Index measures, on a monthly basis, the growth and seasonality of online shopping based on data collected from online shoppers. The Index is based on 5,000 responses during the first nine business days of the month from an online panel developed by Greenfield Online. The survey results for January were fielded from February 1 through February 7, 2001.

The monthly panel is weighted to Forrester Research’s Benchmark Panel, which surveyed nearly 90,000 US and Canadian members of a consumer mail panel developed by NPD Group, a market research firm. Data was weighted to demographically represent the North American population. The survey was fielded from late November 1999 to February 2000.

For more information at http://www.nrf.com.

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