Three out of 10 Americans do most holiday shopping online

Harris poll shows many U.S. buyers are checking off their shopping lists online

As shoppers eagerly take advantage of Cyber Monday deals, a new poll shows that nearly three out of 10 Americans will do most of their holiday shopping online this year.

According to a Harris poll of 2,499 American adults in early November, 28% said they expect to do most of their holiday buying without setting foot in a brick-and-mortar store.

That is a great sign for retailers who are increasingly turning to online sales to reach consumers, said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group.

"Online retail has reached the tipping point," Olds said. "There's a tipping point from the point when your first option is a local store ... to when online does a better job on price and selection ... Then online becomes the default and local becomes the backup."

Three out of 10 Americans doing their shopping online is a solid number, according to Olds. "Although to some perpetually wired folks three out of 10 may sound on the low side, they need to keep in mind that this poll takes in the entire American population, including a vast number of people who don't typically interact with computers on a daily basis," he noted. "I'd say 30% of the total American population is a good healthy number for online retailers to compete for. This is not a breakout year for online spending, because it broke out years ago ... but it shows good, steady growth."

At least one online tracker, comScore, is predicting that Cyber Monday online sales will be record breaking.

When Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, saw a 26% increase in spending compared to the same day in 2010, analysts at comScore said they expect that Cyber Monday, which is the first work day after Thanksgiving, will top the charts.

ComScore also noted that the large online retailers are hitting it big. Amazon.com was the top online retailer on Black Friday, according to comScore, followed by Wal-Mart, BestBuy, Target and Apple respectively.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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