- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Nashville is the nation’s top city for online shopping, beating out cyber-savvy cities like San Francisco and New York, according to a new report from America Online.

The report “Online Shopping Cities” tallies the average number of times consumers go online to research and buy products or services, as well as the dollar amount spent per month online. Raleigh, N.C., and Baltimore were among the top five. Washington ranked No. 6 — up from the No. 10 slot last year.

“The ascent of so many mid-sized cities demonstrates that online shopping has become more mainstream than ever,” said Patrick Gates, senior vice president of commerce for America Online. “The online medium is a powerful tool for consumers looking for the best information and the best prices out there.”

Online shoppers in Nashville, which ranked 16th last year, spent on average nearly $330 a month this year — about $100 per month more than last year. Consumers researched online about 30 times each month and bought products or services on average two times a month.

On a national average, consumers research products online 23 times per month, according to America Online. More consumers are researching online and going into stores armed with product information and price comparisons.

“We see now more and more research being done on line,” Mr. Gates said. “It really has caught on and consumers have become more aware.”

Washington online shoppers research 24 times per month for products and services — up from 20.7 times per month last year. Washingtonians make purchases about five times a month and spend on average $173.50 a month.

The report is good news for retailers who can use the World Wide Web to attract bargain hunters — particularly during the holidays.

“Retailers are aware of the power of online shopping,” Mr. Gates said.

In fact, online retailers can expect their best holiday season yet. Online shoppers likely will spend $16.8 billion in November and December — a $3 billion increase from the 2002 holiday season, according to Jupiter Research.

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