CE Dominates Online Sales; E-tailers Rank High In Poll

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Reston, Va. - Consumer electronics and related categories were among the top performing online product sectors during the third quarter.

According to the latest quarterly e-commerce sales report from online market research firm ComScore, only books and magazines surpassed electronics in dollar volume, followed by computers, peripherals and PDAs; computer software; and CE.

The results indicate "a higher willingness of consumers to spend on in-home entertainment," ComScore said.

Total U.S. e-commerce sales rose 9 percent to $32.1 billion for the three months, ended Sept. 30, representing the fourth consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth following a year of flat or negative growth rates.

The top 25 online retailers accounted for 70 percent of all dollars spent online, up 5.5 percentage points from the year-ago period. Online-only retailers accounted for 58 percent of all e-commerce dollar volume, compared with 42 percent among multichannel retailers, unchanged from a year ago, while 41 percent of online retail transactions included free shipping, down only marginally from last year.

"Retail e-commerce growth in the third quarter remained solid at 9 percent, a fairly positive indicator for the upcoming holiday season," said ComScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. He cautioned, however: "Until the economy begins adding jobs at a meaningful rate, the lack of spending power among consumers will continue to be a drag on purchasing, with many consumers indicating their intention to cut back on gift buying this holiday season."

Separately, online-only retailers B&H Photo, Crutchfield, Amazon.com and Newegg.com were among the highest-rated CE dealers across all channels of distribution in Consumer Reports' latest Annual Electronics Buying Survey.

 Amazon.com and Newegg.com received high marks from readers for their websites' ease of use, while Newegg and B&H were cited for competitive prices. In contrast, Crutchfield was noted for its selection and a strong combination of customer service and buying ease.

Nevertheless, the magazine said independent dealers and other brick-and-mortar showrooms "may have an advantage over e-tailers" within new and unfamiliar categories and technologies -- such as tablets, smartphones, e-book readers, 3D and touchscreens -- that  require personal demos and expert guidance.

Independent retailers out-scored most national and regional chains and had especially high marks for in-person service, the survey showed, although Apple, Ultimate Electronics and hhgregg also received top marks for customer service.


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