Xmas shoppers drive online market growth

Online retailers filled virtual stockings across the nation, as shoppers flocked to the Net in the month leading up to Christmas.

The Aussie online shopping market boomed in December with almost three million unique visitors shopping online and more users accessing the transactional area to make purchases in a last minute rush, according to research group, Neilsen/NetRatings Online Shopping Index.

In terms of online purchasing, the index was up 19 per cent from June's figure, although slightly below November's peak of 21 per cent.

The purchasing was spread between both traditional retailers and pure dot.com players. According to Andrew Reid, senior analyst Nielsen/NetRatings, David Jones remained the number one 'clicks and bricks' traditional retail brand online, yet Harvey Norman was "a standout performer" late into the shopping season. Harvey Norman, labelled 'the warhorse of retailing' by Reid, experienced the largest single growth rate of any retail site. The retailer posted a 178 per cent rise in unique audience numbers between November and December.

Amazon held its position as the number one dot.com, but Chaos Music and Wishlist challenged traditional retailers, rising 50 per cent and 11 per cent respectively between November and December.

"Liquor and music sites continued their late upward surge during the season, while the strong performance of several major retail brands, including David Jones, Kmart and Target showed how an online Christmas can pay off for both the 'clicks and bricks' and the dot.com stayers," said Reid.

"In more recent times, major offline brands were expected to dominate online retailing, but by riding out the storm and waiting on changes in consumer confidence in online purchasing, a number of the dot.com retailer brands have gained traction."

Indeed, Reid said the December surge indicates that the debate surrounding retailers about which group - dot.coms or 'clicks and bricks' - will "own online retailing" is a red herring.

"It's no longer a war of attrition between these two classes of online retailers, it's a battle for market share," said Reid.

"It remains to be seen whether those spending at dot.com-only sites flirt with online spending just once a year or whether they are true converts to online shopping," he said.

The international category still dominate the market share, with Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and CD Now, accounting for 25 per cent of all online shopping in December.

Non-retailers, Virgin Blue and Greater Union, also benefited from the season, growing 28 per cent and 120 per cent respectively.

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More about Chaos MusicDavid JonesDOT.COMSHarvey Norman HoldingsNeilsen/NetRatingsNetRatingsNielsenNormanVirgin Blue

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