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Web Could Be Bright Spot for Holiday Sales

28 Oct, 2009 Response This Week

NEW YORK – Online retailers are gearing up offers of better deals and customer service to try and capture more holiday sales, reports The Wall Street Journal.

At a time when traditional retailers are having to cut back on marketing budgets, staff and inventory levels, online retailers are spending more money to make shipping times faster, consumer reviews better and offer new features.

What are some of the online shops doing to set themselves apart? eBay Inc. is highlighting merchants with the best ratings; Sears Holdings Corp. is launching online layaway; and is offering more easy-open packages.

The push for better online service comes after following last year’s 3-percent sales drop during the holiday season, according to comScore Inc. Last year was the first drop in holiday sales since Americans began shopping online. In 2009, despite a prediction of a flat to 1 percent drop in retails as a whole, 80 percent of the surveyed E-commerce sites expect to see their holiday sales grow, according to the National Retail Federation.

Online sales represent about 4 percent of all sales in the United States and so far this year, rates have declined. “We’re optimistic,” says Tom Szkutak, CFO of Amazon. “We feel very good about what we saw in (the third quarter) … and right now we’re focused on making sure that we have a great customer experience during (the fourth quarter).”

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