E-commerce Recovers After Post-Attack Fall in Sales

19 September 2001

US online sales plunged last week in the wake of last week’s events, but largely seem to have recovered, according to internet research firm ComScore Networks which monitors e-tailers targeting American surfers.

Internet purchases (excluding auction sites) between last Tuesday – the day of the attacks – and Sunday totalled $546 million, 35% down on the $837m recorded over the same days the week before.

Unsurprisingly, Tuesday and Wednesday took the biggest hits, registering a 47% drop on the same two days a week earlier. However, online spending jumped from $85m on Wednesday to $124m on Thursday and $129m on Friday, suggesting people largely resumed customary activities once the shock had subsided.

The data are encouraging for (mostly unprofitable) e-tailers, many of which could not withstand a prolonged drop in online purchases. Nevertheless, the lasting effects of last week are far from clear.

This is especially the case in the internet travel sector, which saw an estimated 55% week-on-week plunge in sales to $144m between Tuesday and Sunday. Stocks in the sector have tumbled as investors consider the repercussions of cancelled flights and heightened security fears. Web travel agency Expedia registered a 35%–40% fall in new bookings from Wednesday to Sunday compared with the week before.

Understandably, one online sector that has seen a boost since the attacks is charity sites. Around $30m was raised by such websites between Tuesday and Sunday, over 70% of which went to the Red Cross, with 10% coming from outside the US.

News source: Wall Street Journal