WMU News

Forget the mall, say online shoppers

Nov. 22, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- There's a new movement afoot in the holiday shopping season. In ever increasing numbers, people are avoiding mobbed malls in favor of the ease and convenience of shopping from their homes via the Internet and their home computer.

Dr. Alan Rea, WMU assistant professor of business information systems, says online shopping is exploding and has far exceeded expectations this year. Early predictions had called for online shopping to total $7.8 billion for 1999. The revised estimate is now $12 to $15 billion, Rea says.

What's responsible for this phenomenon? "It's the ease of shopping online," Rea says. "You can shop at 3 in the morning in your pajamas when you can't sleep. You can avoid those weekend and holiday shopping sprees. People pack their schedules so full. Saturdays they're shopping and that's when everybody else is shopping, as well. So you can avoid those times and order your gifts online."

Rea says selection also is better online, since customers aren't limited to what's offered at their local store. The explosion in e-commerce is bound to continue with the rapid success of such online sites as Amazon.com and huge investments by large corporations in Internet sales sites.

"Most of the Fortune 500 companies have said that, next to Y2K expenditures, their second biggest expenditure this year has been e-commerce," Rea says, "and it will be No. 1 next year after Y2K is over. So you're going to see more e-commerce."

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 616 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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