WASHINGTON – If your mailbox is beginning to fill with holiday shopping catalogs, blame the Internet.
BizRate Research's (search) Online Holiday Mood Study (search) found almost 60 percent of Net merchants plan to use catalog mailings to drive traffic to Web sites this year. Nine out of 10 online merchants say they will be putting promotional dollars into offline media for the season. In-store material sand direct mail also will be popular.
Overall, Internet sellers are very optimistic. Expecting that higher gasoline prices might boost online sales, 19% expect their holiday business to be twice that of last year, with another 54% of Web retailers expecting growth between 20% and 29%, according to a statement by Shop.org (search), the industry trade group that announced the research results.
Buyers can expect free shipping to be common, because four out of five consumers said it is an important factor in their decision-making, "Shoppers are clearly motivated by promotions like free shipping, gifts with purchase and special online offers," said Scott Silverman, executive director of Shop.org, in a statement.
HGTV Webcast will launch new show
Home and Garden Television (search) will Webcast the premiere of a new TV show for first-time home buyers.
HGTV, a division of E.W. Scripps (SSP) , also has arranged for episodes of "My First Place" to run on TVGuide.com (GMST) in an effort to build offline buzz among younger viewers, in advance of the show's debut on cable Oct. 22.
The Webcast is scheduled for Oct. 17.
Broadband versions of the show will have exclusive material, such as celebrities talking about their first home. Charity Curley, director of HGTV's Web site, said using the Internet for a sneak preview is a way to "show viewers that there's more new, hip, young programming on the network," according to MediaPost. Streaming the show is a way of "putting it in a medium where young people are watching," Curley added.
In other real-estate happenings, a new Web site for home buyers has launched, claiming to be the first to combine aerial photography with listings and information about neighborhoods.
A 6-year-old real-estate company in Kirkland, Wash., HouseValues (search), said its site lets visitors zoom in on cul de sacs and find information about school districts and nearby libraries and restaurants, as well as distances to police and fire stations. HouseValues.com makes its money by signing up real-estate agents, according to a report in the Seattle Times.