For the 2008 holiday season, 90% of consumers say they plan to use the web to research and purchase some of their Christmas shopping items, with 68% planning to conduct at least half of their Christmas shopping online, and 71% agreeing that the recession is playing a large part in their budgeting decisions.
The quarterly study by the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) into online shopping habits examined planned consumer behaviour in the run up to Christmas 2008 and beyond, and was carried out by eDigitalResearch among members of the online loyalty programme, iPoints.co.uk.
The study's findings support many industry observers' assumption that consumers will be spending less during this festive season, with 52% reporting that they planned to spend less on Christmas gifts than in previous years.
On a more positive note, apart from noting that 79.6% of respondents are currently satisfied with their e-retail experience, the study also identified a significant increase (10% more than in 2007) in those planning to purchase clothes online. Books, CDs, music and games continued to be the most popular goods to buy online, followed by jewellery, clothing and footwear.
Overall, the results reveal that a high number of respondents (79.6%) are satisfied with the customer experience they receive online, with 76% being happy that the internet is a competitive environment when it comes to prices. Additionally, 73% said they were pleased with the security offered online, and 84% were pleased with the wide range of products available.
"Online retailers should provide customers with help and support throughout the purchase process, especially concerning the after-sales service to help build brand loyalty," warned Chris Russell, director for eDigitalResearch. "With the retail sector slowing down, customer service elements are becoming more important than ever before."