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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Tech Industry

Shoppers flip-flop their Web strategy

A survey attributes an increase in retail sales to a new trend in which consumers are reversing old habits of online and traditional shopping.

Consumers have been using the Internet to browse for products before buying offline for some time. But a new survey says they're now starting to reverse that shopping method.

A new survey conducted by Shop.org and BizRate.com found that while nearly half of those surveyed use the Internet to look for products and then buy them either in a store or through a catalog, 45 percent are buying online after researching gifts in stores and catalogs, the study found. The survey involved 1,252 online buyers and over 80 online retailers about their shopping habits, including the "Black Friday" weekend after Thanksgiving, traditionally considered the start of the holiday shopping season.

The new trend could be fueling online sales, which appear to be up this year. More than half of online retailers surveyed have seen sales jump 25 percent or more compared with same period last year. And optimism among online retailers is up 4 percent from what it was two weeks ago. Free shipping also seems to be the key driver of online sales.

The winter holiday shopping season began on a bright note, with retail sales during post-Thanksgiving weekend up a combined 5.4 percent year-over-year, to $12.4 billion. Online sales are expected to surge this season, with millions of new consumers buying over the Internet.

"Online retailers are increasingly optimistic about the holidays because the last two weeks have been very strong," Scott Silverman, executive director of Shop.org, said in a statement. "Retailers have succeeded in combining their Web sites, stores and catalogs into a seamless shopping experience that lets consumers shop where and when they want."