E-retailers Make a Bundle on Mom

SAN FRANCISCO (05/16/2000) - Mother's Day delivered the mother lode to e-commerce vendors this year, as sales of the typical gifts were more double expectations.

During the first 12 days of May, Mother's Day gifts pushed the apparel, consumer goods, entertainment, food/wine, gifts/flowers and home/garden categories to more than $189 million in sales - about 14 times greater than the $14 million spent last year. By comparison, total retail spending during that period was $1.3 billion, with Mother's Day categories representing about 15 percent.

E-commerce dollars spent in the name of mom far outpaced expectations, to more than twice the $76 million in category spending that BizRate.com projected. Not surprisingly, gifts and flowers brought in about 90 percent of the total sales.

Apparently, the majority of those who shopped online for mom last year had a positive experience, because 90 percent had planned to do so again this year.

The bulk of orders, however, came from first-timers who had never before turned to the Net for Mother's Day gifts. Shoppers spent an average of $65 per purchase on mom, almost identical to the $66 spent per sweetie in the days leading up to Valentine's Day. The average spent on kiddies at Christmas was $93 each.

Traffic to gift sites increased by more than 200 percent after mid-April, reaching almost 250,000 unique visitors during the first week of May, according to Nielsen NetRatings. Jewelry sites also saw a big jump in traffic, with an increase of 150 percent over the three weeks between mid-April and Mother's Day. Increases in flower-site visitors were less dramatic, rising about 30 percent from previous weeks to more than 700,000 visitors during the first week of May.

On Thursday, May 11, there were almost 250,000 flower-site visitors, nearly twice the number from the previous Thursday. In florist-site traffic, 1-800-Flowers.com dominated, with almost 400,000 unique visitors recorded during the first week of May. FTD.com and Proflowers.com trailed, attracting less than half of that traffic.

For Mother's Day shoppers on a budget, electronic-greetings sites were fabulously popular. Bluemountain.com attracted more than 2 million visitors during the week before Mother's Day, while AmericanGreetings.com drew more than 900,000.

The final test for Mother's Day e-retailers will come Tuesday, when data on site performance and order fulfillment for the top 12 flower, chocolate and greeting-card sites is released by Keynote Systems.

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