NEW YORK — Consumers in major metropolitan areas on the East and West Coasts will dominate online shopping for apparel and accessories this holiday, and those items are projected to be the third most popular gifts they purchase, according to data disclosed Monday by Digital Marketing Services and America Online.

Fashion cybershopping will be most prevalent through December in Hartford, Conn., with 59.5 percent of those polled in that market saying they plan to purchase apparel or accessories online versus a national average of 45.8 percent who have those plans. By comparison, an average of 53 percent of respondents said they’d make online holiday purchases of music or videos, and 49 percent said they’d buy books. The results reflect an Online Shopping Cities survey of 7,000 adults, conducted Aug. 28 to Sept. 30 by DMS for Dulles, Va.-based AOL.

If preferences during the week ended Nov. 24th are an indication, leather jackets, jeans and dresses should sell well on the Web for holiday, according to America Online spokeswoman Lisa Gibby, who said those items were last week’s top apparel search terms at AOL’s shopping hub. During October, AOL members spent $409 million for apparel online, the same amount as they spent in September.

More broadly, 60 percent of the cybershoppers surveyed by DMS said they’ll buy more online this holiday than in 2001, and 86 percent said they browse or buy products online at least once a month. "The survey underscores how mainstream shopping online has become — and the power of multichannel purchasing," said Jennifer Betka, AOL’s vice president of commerce.

Curiously, five of the cities where people are projected to do the most online apparel and accessories purchasing through December do not appear on either the list of cities where people plan to do the most holiday spending online, overall, or among those where they’ve spent the most online during the first nine months of 2002. The five are chart-topping Hartford; seventh-place finisher Raleigh, N.C., where 50 percent plan to buy fashion; Dallas and Detroit, tied for eighth at 48 percent, and Minneapolis, in ninth place at 47.5 percent.

Also on the list of locales where an above-average share of cybershoppers plan to buy apparel and accessories online this holiday are Philadelphia, where 53.7 percent say they’ll do so; Boston, 53.5 percent; Washington, D.C., 52.5 percent; Baltimore, 51.5 percent; New York, 50.2 percent; San Francisco, 46.5 percent and Seattle, also 46.5 percent. Nashville and Portland, Ore., finished with identical marks as 46 percent of shoppers in those locales said they’d purchase fashion merchandise via the Internet.Cybershoppers aim to spend an average of $298 online this holiday. In the first nine months of 2002, people ages 18 and 19 have spent $136 per online purchase, on average, or 23 percent more than the $111 that’s typically spent by those 50 and older.

"Younger customers are perhaps more comfortable with the online medium than older customers," Betka said of the discrepancy in spending.

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