- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 28, 2004

Tis the season for online shopping. The online forecasts are pouring in, and they all point to a jolly holiday for Web retailers.

JupiterResearch estimates that online retail sales for November and December will hit $21.6 billion — a 19 percent increase compared with the same period last year. The research group says about 86 million U.S. residents will buy online this holiday compared with the 73 million who did last year.

JupiterResearch, which has been tracking online holiday sales since 1995, had forecasted that $17 billion would be spent during the holidays in 2003. That was slightly below the more than $18 billion that was actually spent.

Online shopping has become a prominent retail activity for the holidays.

According to an America Online survey, shoppers who research and/or make purchases online plan to spend 53 percent of their holiday budget on the Web this season.

“These findings confirm that shopping online has truly come of age,” said Bob Hayes, vice president and general manager of AOL E-commerce.

Closer home, D.C.-area online shoppers say they will spend 58 percent of their budget on the Web. They also will increase their online spending by 17 percent to $347, the survey said.

Flipping through pages

EBay has created a catalog for the holidays.

The online auction site giant mailed out several million catalogs earlier this month to EBay users. The 32-page catalog, the first of its kind for EBay, highlights gift ideas in categories such as clothing, toys and electronics.

The items are listed with an average price, which was the average selling price on EBay for the product from June 15 to Sept. 15, not including shipping and handling. Shoppers cannot buy items from the catalog.

Breaking ground

Officials are breaking ground Thursday on the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Prince George’s County overlooking the Potomac River.

The 41-acre resort, which will have 1,500 guest rooms and 400,000 square feet of exhibition and meeting space, will be part of the planned 200-acre National Harbor, developed by the Peterson Cos.

National Harbor is expected to have dining, retail and entertainment, including a 2,500-seat theater for live performances. The Gaylord resort will also include a private marina and a 20,000-square-foot spa and fitness center. It is expected to open in March 2008.

In other hotel news

The Days Inn Crystal City will become the Radisson Hotel Reagan National Airport on Dec. 15. The hotel originally was built as the Hospitality House Motor Inn in the mid-1960s. The 245-room hotel recently underwent a $5 million renovation, which included guest rooms, the public space and a new exterior facade.

Retail rummage

• Two new retailers — Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) and StoreHouse Furniture — have opened at the Shops at Congressional Village, a 100,000-square-foot shopping center located at Rockville Pike and Halpine Road in Rockville. Three other retailers — Mervis Diamond Importers, Rockaway Bedding and Asian restaurant Mama Fu’s — have signed leases totaling 10,300 square feet.

Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884.Retail & Hospitality runs every other Monday.

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