Web Sales Beating Expectations

Surprise package: online sales were expected to be big this year -- but some observers have been bowled over by just how big.

CNBC’s Michelle Caruso-Cabrera said that holiday shopping on the Web has reached $20 billion so far, up from the $16 billion amassed over the same period last year.

Online Spending Surge
Online Spending Surge   

Patti Freeman Evans, senior retail analyst at Jupiter Research, attributes the boom to more product offerings, aggressive marketing – and to many more Internet retailers offering on-time delivery guarantees.

Gian Fulgoni, chairman of Web-business tracker comScore, agrees. He told “Morning Call” that e-commerce trailblazer Amazon.com is No. 1 in terms of absolute sales – but says growth rates tell a different story. By the latter metric, brick-and-mortar retailers are surpassing pure-play cyber firms, with Best Buy, Circuit City Stores and Wal-Mart building their online sales presence at twice the rate of companies like Amazon and eBay.

Fulgoni also points an advantage that the brick stores have: they allow shoppers to buy online – and then go pick up the merchandise at the store, guaranteeing peace of mind.