There appears to be early cause for celebration about holiday sales among online PC resellers and vendors.
Analysts predicted that the Net would generate over $1 billion in sales this holiday season, with much of the revenue generated through online PC sales. No one knows if vendors reached that mark, but for now, retailers sound cautiously optimistic.
"We haven't run independent numbers yet to see how our online sales did," said Mike McNeil, president of Club Mac, an online Mac and PC reseller. "But the feeling is that they're doing real well."
Dell Computer is also boasting of surging holiday sales on the Internet. Dell's online sales now project to a rate of $1 billion a year, and several times this holiday season online sales topped $6 million a day, CEO Michael Dell said recently.
A study earlier this month indicated that the new category of sub-$1,000 PCs would drive holiday PC sales. The finding, by International Data Corporation and AC Nielson, concluded that twice as many households intended to buy a PC this season compared to last year, with 30 percent intending to spend less than $1,250.
According to the study, the average price of a PC last holiday season was $1,900. This year, the average was expected to be around $1,600.
"We had a big bump after Christmas," said John Thibault, vice president of eBay, a personal auction site on the Net.
Auctions in eBay's PC hardware category are up about 35 percent this week over last week, to about 10,100. Thibault speculated that some sellers are unloading older PCs because they got new ones at Christmas.
"I believe we're seeing the same kind of pattern as in the real world, where people return items to stores or do big buying and selling after the holiday," Thibault said, adding that bidding on PC software and CD-ROM games also increased.
Because of this bargain-basement mentality, discount sites like Insight experienced one of their strongest holiday seasons online.
Insight processed over 7,000 invoices in the first 28 days of December, said John-Scott Dixon, director of electronic media for the online PC discounter. "We did way bigger than last year," said Dixon, who suggested that sales may surged because Insight sponsored a college football bowl game, the Insight.com Bowl.
"We had to beef up our servers to handle the extra traffic," Dixon said.