78% of US online adults made an Internet purchase in the past six months, according to Nielsen. Four out of ten made a travel purchase, and more than one third managed their credit card or baking accounts online. Other sites with high transaction rates were clothes/shoes/accessories (28%), books (26%), and hotel/motel reservations (18%). Top individual sites were eBay, Amazon, Wal Mart stores, Target, and Netflix.

“The challenge for retailers is no longer how to lure shoppers online, but how to differentiate their brand among all others,” said Nachi Lolla, research director at Nielsen Online.
Nielsen’s survey paints a much sunnier picture than current comScore data, which shows that e-commerce slowed to one percent growth in October, continuing a sharp downward trend that began in April.

October’s growth rate was the lowest since comScore began in 2001. It was at its height in August 2007, when it was at 28%. Since then, it has been falling slowly but consistently. Growth should return with Black Friday, but it will be interesting to see how much it really is. If we weren’t entering the holiday shopping season, online retail would soon start seeing negative growth.

“[C]oncern and even fear are the prevailing consumer sentiments at the moment, and this is causing all income segments to pull back their spending,” said comScore’s chairman, Gian Fulgoni. “With the financial markets still volatile and more job cuts looming, it would appear the only near term ray of hope for this year’s holiday shopping season is that the sharp drop in oil prices will cause an easing in inflation and provide a much needed boost in consumers’ spending power.”

By Mark Alvarez