It has become clear that between a quarter and a third of U.S. Internet users have become quite attached to using the Internet to celebrate the holidays and shop for gifts online. It is a growing group and certainly would have fallen well below 10% of Internet users just several years ago. Active online celebrants can be identified in a variety of ways – their use of email, the level of their purchases online, the frequency with which they do window-shopping online. We decided to use a moderately expansive definition of them by focusing on their email use. The analysis in this section focuses on the one-third of email users who used email with family and friends to make holiday plans or about holiday events. This definition of “active online celebrant” applies to about 30 million Americans.
These relatively enthusiastic holiday emails are more likely to shop online for holiday gifts (32% v. 23%) and window shop (56% v. 43%). Eager emailers do a little bit more of everything than the average Internet user. For instance, their average online holiday expenditure this year was $477 versus the $407 average.
Online experience is the likely driver of this enthusiasm. Two-thirds of ardent emailers (68%) have been online for 5 or more years compared with 55% for all users. Furthermore, a high-speed connection may also contribute to online shopping — 25% of home Internet users have high-speed connections in this sample; for ardent emailers the home high-speed number is 33%. Also, for home broadband users, the average online holiday expenditure was $480 this year. For ardent emailers with broadband at home, the average expenditure was $544 for online holiday purchases.