Online shopping craze to begin winding down

December 21, 2009 6:53:39 PM PST
Internet retailers across the country are breathing a sigh of relief as the mad rush by last-minute shoppers begins to wane. Many online stores have set today as the deadline for free guaranteed Christmas delivery.

Shoppers' propensity to wait until the last minute gave Internet shopping sites the last-minute rush they wanted. Now they're in recovery mode.

"We've got a crew of about 500 people in Louisville who make the merchandise for Cafe Press, and they're probably breathing a nice breath of fresh air right now," said Marc Cowlin from Cafepress.com

Cafepress.com is based in San Mateo. It sells personalized gift items across the country and around the world. And it is projecting holiday sales will top last year's numbers by 10 to 20 percent. Its deadline for shipping was 3 p.m. on Monday.

However, other websites saw a sudden spurt in weekend sales and quickly changed their strategy offering hefty discounts and extending free shipping.

"Everyone had promised that yesterday was the last day of free shipping, but I think retailers are hedging their bets and people recognizing that this opportunity to go ahead and do more sales, so extended free shipping out there," said Coremetrics President and CEO Joe Davis.

The San Mateo-based company measures and analyzes online sales for some of the top retailers on the Internet.

Its research indicates online sales last week were up over 14 percent. Sales took a big jump over the weekend -- up 24 percent Saturday and 20 percent Sunday.

"The general larger retailers like Macy's and JC Penney are doing very, very well. The luxury brands may be struggling a little bit more. But lower priced merchandise seems to be doing well as people are a little more sensitive to what they're spending," said Davis.

E-commerce represents only 6 percent of all retail sales, but this season, it might go up to 7 percent.

Thanks to Internet retailers, a lot of people will have packages underneath the tree just in time for Christmas, including those who have been procrastinating.


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