Internet Shopping Satisfaction Index Drops to 12-Year Low

Friday, 21 Feb 2014 08:45 AM

By Dan Weil

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A lot may be happening in Internet retailing, but it's apparently not all having a positive impact on consumers.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) measure of satisfaction with online shopping fell 4.9 percent to 78 last year, the lowest level since 2001.

Some last-minute online Christmas gifts didn't make it to their recipients on time, because of delayed deliveries. That probably explains the fall in the satisfaction index, according to ACSI Chairman Claes Fornell.

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"Nevertheless, diminished foot traffic at malls — along with a surge in shopping via mobile phones and tablets — indicates that consumers are increasingly embracing the advantages of online commerce."

ACSI director David VanAmburg tells CNBC, "I think this is more of a glitch or a blip rather than a long-term trend that there's something wrong with online retail."

The satisfaction rating for the retail sector overall gained 1.7 percent to 77.9 in 2013, the third straight year of improvement.

"Stores are doing what they need to do to make the experience more attractive," VanAmburg notes. "We're seeing a little better service and a little better discounting, especially during the holiday season."

Meanwhile, U.S. retail sales slid 0.4 percent in December, the biggest decline since June 2012.

"It's not looking good for consumer spending," Guy Berger, a U.S. economist at RBS Securities, tells Bloomberg. "Even if you have some modest improvement in the pace of employment growth, that's not enough to generate a huge improvement in income."

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