Online shoppers probably aren't outpacing their mall-walking brethren today. In fact, if this year is like previous years, the Internet will be an enabler for Christmas shopping procrastinators, according to observers.
"Online attracts the catalogue mentality -- 'Can I get it shipped in time for the holiday?' -- so the first half of December is the peak for online," said Wendy Wheeler, vice president of marketing for OrderTrust in Lowell, Massachusetts, an integrated order management service for e-commerce.
Last year, the busiest online shopping day was December 15, she said, noting that many Web sites guaranteed Christmas delivery for items ordered before December 20.
"Most people will want to have at least a week to make sure the Internet order arrives in time for the holiday," said Carl Ichikawa, general manager of Sears Wishbook.com and the Wish Book catalog put out by retailing giant Sears, Roebuck and Co. He predicts December 16 and 17 will be the busiest online shopping days this year, and expects Internet shoppers will end their Thanksgiving weekend by logging on after 6 pm Sunday, November 28.
But the first few days of the Thanksgiving weekend would be more beneficial for traditional retailers, Wheeler said.
"People are working most days, and when people have a nice long weekend, they have a tendency to go physically out shopping," she said.