In the early days of the Internet, the overwhelming majority of online shoppers logged on from work. The reason was simple. They had access to high-speed connections at work, but not from home (where most were still on dial-up), so shopping was easier and quicker from the workplace. Now things are different.

According to the latest figures from the USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future, more homes in the US now connect with broadband than by dial-up.

So why are shoppers still going online from work?

Despite the proliferation of high-speed Internet connections in US homes, a new survey from CyberSource shows that most e-commerce shopping happens during work hours.

CyberSource found that the peak shopping hour on a recent high-volume week (December 3 through December 9, during the critical online holiday shopping season) was 1 pm Pacific time (4 pm Eastern time) — work hours by anyone’s definition.

On the other hand, online transactions hit their low point between the hours of 11 pm and 4 am Pacific time (2 am and 7 am Eastern time). After that, as employees began going in to work on the East Coast and then across the nation, shopping volumes also began climbing to their midday peak.

The survey found a marked difference between workdays and weekends, too. The highest-volume online shopping days were Monday and Tuesday, while Saturday and Sunday had the lowest volumes.

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

The survey did indicate some change. The difference between the highest- and lowest-volume hours is diminishing.

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

"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 Mr. Schwegman.

More here.

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