Favorite Online Shopping Time? Working Hours

Despite the proliferation of high-speed Internet among U.S. homes, most eCommerce shopping happens during working hours, according to CyberSource Corporation, a provider of electronic payment and risk management solutions.

“We’ve all seen the numbers, broadband is now in two-thirds of American homes equipped for the Internet,” said Doug Schwegman, CyberSource director of market and customer intelligence. “But our processing stats say the majority of people are still doing their online shopping from the office.”

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The peak shopping hour on a recent high volume week (December 3rd through the 9th) was typical—1:00 p.m. Pacific time, 4:00 p.m. Eastern—work hours by most people’s definition.

Online transactions typically hit their low point between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. Pacific, 2:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. Eastern, and then begin the rapid climb to the midday peak. The highest volume online shopping days are Mondays and Tuesdays with the weekend days of Saturday and Sunday typically showing lowest volumes.

But there is change afoot. Though the peak shopping hour isn’t moving much, there is a change in the eCommerce shopping picture. The difference between the highest and lowest volume hours is diminishing.

“The graphs are flattening, albeit with much higher numbers. Online shopping is not only getting bigger, it’s becoming more of a 24 hour phenomenon,” said Schwegman.

In the same week in 2004, the difference between the lowest and the highest number of transactions was approximately 300%. In 2006, that difference has decreased to approximately 160%.

“We believe several factors are at work here: one, the widespread availability of broadband, so people can conveniently shop from home, and two, the globalization of eCommerce. We know from our latest fraud survey that many of our large merchants have 17% or more of their volume coming from outside the U.S. Just last year, that percentage was 14%.”

The increasing popularity of purchasing digital goods like music, video and software over the Internet also increases the number of online shoppers from other time zones shopping at U.S. sites.