Retailers are predicting another big holiday season for online shopping. After spectacular growth, online commerce has now become a regular part of the holiday shopping routine for a record number of Americans.

According to comScore Networks, which measures consumer behavior on the Internet, holiday online purchasing accounted for $24.6 billion in 2006, an increase of 26 percent over the previous year. Consumers are expected to buy even more this season.

One reason for the increase is that online shoppers are becoming more adventurous. It used to be that consumers were only comfortable buying items such as electronics, clothing, books and computer hardware online. That is changing as more and more retailers offer easy-to-use Web sites with a range of custom products and 24-hour-a-day convenience.

A category that has seen recent growth is gourmet food. According to a new study by, food gifts have skyrocketed in popularity, increasing by 47 percent between 2004 and 2006. While the demand for other gift categories has been slowing down, food gifts are becoming the first choice for many consumers.

“Our online sales increased by 66 percent last year,” says Ed Scavuzzo, president of the Kansas City Steak Company, an online food retailer specializing in high-quality steaks and seafood “We shipped over one million packages of our Kansas City beef in 2006, and we are expecting even larger increases as we move into the holiday season of 2007. We have just completed the introduction of our redesigned Web site that is more functional, more informative, and easier to use. This new Web site will help us continue to provide expert service to our individual, as well as our corporate gift buyers. We offer a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, so our product and our service have to be superior.”

Gourmet gifts of food are becoming the first choice of online consumers because of the high quality of products and the ease of ordering. There is an incredible range of products available from online specialty food retailers that are offered nowhere else. From fine chocolates and decadent desserts, to hard-to-find smoked meats and cheeses, to steakhouse-quality steaks and seafood, the list goes on and on.

Whether you want a personalized snack basket, a regional wine selection or a gourmet meal featuring top-of-the-line filet mignon, poultry, or seafood, your gift can be found from the easily-accessible convenience of your own computer. A click of the mouse at any time of day or night can provide you with customized gifts, complete with personal holiday greetings.

“Everyone enjoys receiving a gift of top-quality gourmet food,” Scavuzzo says. “It is a gift that is easy to give, easy to receive, and can be shared by the whole family.”

For expert advice and ideas for everyone on your list this year, visit – Courtesy of ARAcontent.

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