Holiday 2007 started strong and ended strong, at least for online retailers.
One reason for that success is the products available on the Web. The list of bestsellers for different sites points to the variety of price points and merchandise being sold online, which now covers everything from Christian Louboutin shoes to iPhones and Nintendo Wiis.
Another reason may be that consumers, having ordered gifts online for several years now and receiving them in time for Christmas, are more comfortable with Internet shopping. Some sites — including the online stores of such major retailers as Neiman Marcus — even extended their shipping deadlines for holiday delivery to Sunday, Dec. 23.
Endless.com pushed the deadline for free shipping to 1 p.m. on Dec. 23. "Despite the best laid plans, last-minute shopping always seems inevitable," said Maria Renz, vice president of Endless.com and Amazon.com shoes. Endless, which sells designer shoes and handbags, featured gift ideas such as a Bally Rilko suede messenger bag for $794 and an Austrian crystal trapezoid minaudiere, priced $700.
EBay said the holiday season started out earlier and ended later. "We saw some holiday activity begin right after Halloween and continue strong into the season, as well as into the third week of December," said Dariana Lau, a spokeswoman. "Softer categories such as clothing, jewelry and health and beauty, which are considered less traditional online shopping categories, remained strong, as opposed to computers, electronics and cellular phones."
Beauty and accessories bestsellers as of Dec. 25 included Juicy Couture and Covet by Sara Jessica Parker fragrances, and gold leaf earrings and wallets from Lodi, Isabella Fiore and Tokidoki. In addition, eBay introduced gift cards this year in $25 and $50 denominations.
According to a survey by Shopping.com, 77 percent of respondents said they'd prefer a gift card to a tangible gift.
Since January is typically a much slower month, eBay retailers are planning sales and promotions to bring shoppers back.
Shopstyle.com's biggest revenue day of the season was Tuesday, Dec. 18, said Andy Moss, founder and chief executive officer. "Dresses remained very popular, along with boots and designer handbags." In addition to Louboutin, names in the top five brands include Marc by Marc Jacobs for day dresses, Nicole Miller for cocktail dresses, BCBG Max Azria for cocktail dresses and Milly for black dresses.
"Designer handbags and shoes continue to be really strong," said Melissa Payner, president and ceo of Bluefly.com. "We've seen consistent growth with jewelry. Dresses have been strong for a year and cashmere has been really good all season."
Bluefly.com's biggest days were Monday, Dec. 10, and Tuesday, Dec. 11. There was another peak on Dec. 17 and 18. Payner is now turning her attention toward January. "We have a group of promotions for dresses and outerwear," she said. "We have new accessories [coming in]. The contemporary market is getting very strong for handbags. It's a function of the [value of the] euro; bags are getting so expensive."
Yoox.com, an online retailer based in Milan, experienced its heaviest shopping volume on Monday, Dec. 17. "It was so incredible for us that we coined a new phrase, 'Monday Magic Monday,' from U2's hit 'Sunday Bloody Sunday,'" said Hilary Bowers, a Yoox.com spokeswoman. For the month, Yoox.com logged 4 million visitors, with over half a million clicking the special holiday gift area of the site. For Saturday, Dec. 15, and Sunday, Dec. 16, Yoox.com's sales grew 172 percent compared with the same period last year. "It looks like Marni has done incredibly well for us this holiday," Bowers said. "Most likely because it is very distinct and not easy to find. I guess it is a Marni Christmas."
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Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews