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The Chicago Tribune reports that Internet shopping in the weeks before the various end-of-year holidays seems to be going through the roof, with numerous tracking services reporting big jumps in usage:

• Comparison-shopping site says that click-throughs from its site to e-commerce sites are up 83 percent over a year ago. And click-throughs to jewelry sites are up 240 percent, with the average transaction more than $1,400.

• Hitwise, which monitors Internet use, says that over the past month, 10 percent of all Internet visits have been to shopping sites.

• ComScore Networks says that holiday shopping since November 1 is up 23 percent over a year ago, to $12.75 billion…and projects that by the time the holidays are over, online shopping will generate more than $19 billion.

Sucharita Mulpuru, a senior retail analyst at Forrester Research, tells the Tribune, "A lot of retailers are struggling in their brick-and-mortars. [Pure play Web] retailers are definitely taking market share away from the traditional retailers.”

Much of this activity has been driven by promotional offers such as free shipping, sometimes linked to purchases of a certain size ( and sometimes to all purchases (LL Bean).
KC's View:
This isn’t at all surprising to us. We can’t go into detail here because Mrs. Content Guy and the Content Kids occasionally check out the site, but we’ve been able to accomplish most of our Christmas shopping via the Internet. It’s been great – almost everything already has been delivered, and we’re confident that the last package or two will show up before the end of next week.

This may seem like just a holiday phenomenon, but what needs to be understood by marketers is that an entire generation of consumers is seeing the Internet not just as a shopping option, but as the preferred option.

Which means that retailers have, essentially, two options – though we’d suggest that they actually have to implement both of them. First, they have to be in the online shopping game to some extent, either by creating their own offerings or working with service providers that can make it happen for them on a cost-effective basis. Second, they have to raise the level of their brick-and-mortar offerings, creating compelling shopping experiences that can lure people away from their computers.