By Barbara Arnn
Although final holiday sales figures remain to be tallied in detail, initial reports indicate that shopping levels rose enough during the week before Christmas to cheer the hearts of retailers. But it was online retailers who received the truly jolly shopping news: A 25.6% increase in site visits between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25, compared to the same period last year, according to online intelligence service Hitwise. In cyberspace, Thanksgiving Day was the most intensive shopping day. On Christmas Day, e-shoppers caused a spike in visits to sites such as iTunes and MusicMatch; movie sites such as Fandango and MovieTickets.com; and traditional retailers’ online channels—presumably plotting how to take advantage of post-holiday sales. The overall leading online retail categories for the holiday season were auctions, department stores, rewards and directories, computers, and appliances and electronics.

And if you wonder just who generally comprises the population of online shoppers, The Media Audit has released figures indicating that the number of older users is increasing (at a faster rate than users are aging): Now a solid majority of childless, married householders aged 35 and over use the computer regularly (55.6%); the percentage of users aged 75 and up has increased in the last year from 1.3% to 1.6%; while 65-to-74-year-olds account for 5.4% of users, up from 4.6%. The next-youngest age group, 55-to-64-year-olds, account for 11.3% of the user population, up from 9.5%. This statistical snapshot may seem to imply that all other categories make up about 25% of the population of Internet users, from precocious 4-year-olds to twenty-something slackers, middle-aged divorcees, and adventurous centenarians. The one characteristic that cuts across all age groups is income. Households with incomes over $50,000 boast 78.6% Internet access rates among adults; those with lower incomes have 61.3% access rates.

As reported by Operations+Fulfillment Magazine