Bricks-and-Clicks Stores Succeed Online; Ashford and Blue Nile Report Good News

January 4, 2001

Bricks-and-Clicks Stores Succeed Online; Ashford and Blue Nile Report Good News

Good news for traditional retailers: The big winners online this holiday season appear to be those with established brand names and offline presences. A report released Tuesday by Nielsen/Net Ratings shows 11 of the top 15 online shopping sites for the holiday season were established offline brands. More than half of the top 15 are retail brands, including Wal Mart, Sears, KMart's BlueLight.com, Target and Best Buy.

Estimates of the total online sales this holiday season remain varied. BizRate.com estimates consumers spent $6 billion online for the six-week holiday period; Goldman Sachs/PC Data Online estimates the number is closer to $10 billion. American Online reported its members alone spent $4.6 billion online this holiday season, twice the amount spent the previous holiday season.

In jewelry e-commerce news, Ashford.com, while not releasing sales figures, said its delivery record was stellar this year, with 99.9% of packages arriving on time. Late deliveries were a major worry for online shoppers after big problems the previous holiday season. Top jewelry sales categories for Ashford.com were diamond stud earrings, Cartier watches, Lisa Jenks' distinctive silver jewelry and Montblanc pens. In addition, jewelry e-tailer Blue Nile announced it closed a $15 million three-year revolving line of credit with General Electric Co.'s GE Capital unit. The money will be used for working capital and continued growth.

- by Peggy Jo Donahue