The first figures for online holiday sales are in - and so far the numbers are making even the most bullish analysts look smart. The Boston Consulting Group and Shop.org, a trade association that represents dozens of prominent online merchants, announced Monday that Internet sales revenues between Nov. 23 and Dec. 20, 1998 jumped 230 percent over last year. The report was based on sales for 17 Web retailers.
However, overall retail sales for the holiday period rose just 3.5 percent over a year ago, according to Tactical Retail Solutions. That figure trails a 4.7 percent spike in 1997, and is only half of what some analysts predicted.
Net sales still account for "less than 1 percent of the total retail sector," said David Pecaut, senior VP and head of the electronic commerce practice at Boston Consulting Group. "I don't think it's having an impact across the board, but in some areas like book retailing, [online shopping] is expanding the category."
Not surprisingly, the latest e-commerce news sent Internet stocks once again hurtling toward the stratosphere Monday. Yahoo, SkyMall and Amazon.com each were up more than 30 points at midday. But offline retailers weren't faring as well on Wall Street. Wal-Mart, which announced strong Christmas sales, saw its stock dip 1 11/16 before the close.