Not that it should come as too much of a surprise, but high gas prices are encouraging people to shop online:
20% of consumers who shop online increased their buying as the result of higher gasoline prices in September 2005, Retail Forward said. 6.7% of consumers who shop online said they are shopping online much more as a result of higher gas prices, while 15% said somewhat more.
Hey, what do we need alternative-energy for if we've got e-commerce. Well, there's still shipping costs (Techdirt):
Three-fourths of online retailers offered free shipping promotions during the holiday season, a research firm says, and all that free shipping is hurting their bottom lines, particularly in light of rising fuel costs being passed along by shipping companies. Analysts say that the promotions were a driver of a strong online shopping season, and that shoppers will expect to see them again next year, putting pressure on retailers to again offer them. Shipping fees have been a bugbear for many online sellers, as they try to come up with an ideal balance between covering costs and keeping prices low enough to attract buyers. Amazon's aggressiveness isn't helping matters, creating an expectation among consumers that free shipping is part and parcel of online shopping.
On the whole though, it's more efficient to have the Fedex truck come down the street, delivering gifts, than for everyone to load into their cars, clog the streets and parking lots, and pick up the gifts themselves.