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

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

According to the latest quarterly ecommerce 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






were the highest-rated CE dealers across all channels of distribution in Consumer Reports' Annual Electronics Buying Survey, as was B&H Photo, a single-storefront retailer that conducts the lion's share of its business online.

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 -- including tablets, smartphones, e-book readers, 3D and touchscreens -- that require personal demos and expert guidance.

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


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