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More and More Consumers are Turning to the Web for

Holiday Shopping Without the Hassle


by Maria Rogers


Savvy shoppers this holiday season are bypassing icy or wet roads and the hassles of the mall to purchase gifts online.

Analysts from Jupiter Communications expect consumers to spend $6 billion online during November and December. This is up from the $3.1 billion consumers spent online in the 1998 holiday shopping season.

This opens a world of potential to those who can stake out a domain name and set up shop in cyberspace. No longer can only large businesses tap into the global market. Now, for the cost of maintaining a Web page, companies can expand their operations and take on the world.

Big name sites such as and are offering shoppers the one-stop shopping convenience to find what they want. Gifts such as books, electronics and music are offered at the sites. makes holiday shopping even more convenient with a gift-selection page. There shoppers can select gifts divided into categories such as mom, dad, son, daughter, co-worker, executive, etc.

Those who want to add a thrill to their shopping experience can try one of the auction sites, such as eBay and uBid. has also added auctions to its site.

Men and women have different reasons for shopping online. In a survey by LinkShare and, 75% of women said that they shop online to avoid holiday crowds and waiting in lines. Sixty-three percent of men cite saving money as their motivating influence for buying gifts online.

Annette Gleneicki, director of new product development at, believes that there are two keys to drawing crowds on the Internet.

"The big thing I always quote right away is free shipping and handling and other product discounts," she said. "They are like the No.1 and 2 incentives for people to buy online."

She suggests companies offering free shipping and handling emphasize that information.

"Put it on the front page," she said.

Gleneicki added that assuring customers that their purchases will arrive on time also helps.

"It's a big concern for everybody and especially at the holiday times," she said.

Although the convenience of shopping from the comfort of home is motivation enough for some to turn to the Internet for their holiday needs, some need more incentive. Bargain hunters will not be disappointed at discount sites such as Bluefly or the Outlet Mall. For example, at Bluefly you can buy home decor such as crystal and bathroom accessories for as much as 30% to 50% off and name-brand fragrances such as Gucci for 50% off.

For those who do not want to spend the time scouring search engines for shopping sites, Lycos offers pre-made lists according to the gift sought. In addition, Yahoo offers a similar compilation of sites.

The Lycos site offers a comparison-shopping service in which consumers can find the best bargains before making a decision.

"The Internet offers a lot of comparison shopping that is hard to do in the bricks and mortar world," said Richard Rogowski, producer of Yahoo Shopping.

According to Rogowski, the site tracks more than 4 million products from more than 7,500 merchants. He believes Yahoo shoppers appreciate price comparisons, user reviews and being able to look at a variety of products.

"I think convenience is really one of the strongest reasons," he said.

We obviously have only scratched the surface of online shopping opportunities, but this should give you a jump-start.

And if for some reason, you can't find the perfect gift online, you can always opt for a gift certificate. Of course you won't even have to leave your desk chair; click over to

Maria Rogers is the education reporter for the Hamilton Journal-News in Hamilton, Ohio. View her Web page at profile.html


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