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Sunday, December 18, 2011

‘Free Shipping Day’ Marks the Peak of a $30.9 Billion Holiday Online Spending Season to Date

For the first 46 days of the November – December 2011 holiday season, online spending increased 15 percent year-over-year to $30.9 billion, according to comScore, a company that measures digital data.

The most recent work week (Dec. 12-16) saw four individual days surpass $1 billion in online spending, led by Monday, December 12 with $1.13 billion and Friday, December 16 (known by the online retail industry as “Free Shipping Day”) with $1.07 billion, according to the Reston, Va.-based company. Free Shipping Day is, now in its fourth year, is a one-day, online-shopping event when thousands of merchants offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve.

With the heaviest portion of the season over, Cyber Monday appears likely to rank as the heaviest online spending day of the year (at $1.25 billion) for the second consecutive season, said Gian Fulgoni, comScore chairman.

“More than $1 billion in spending on Free Shipping Day put the exclamation point on what will almost certainly be the heaviest week of the online holiday shopping season,” Fulgoni said. “While next week may see another strong day or two at the beginning of the week, it’s clear that we have now reached the crescendo for this season and that spending will begin to slow as we get closer to Christmas, leaving Cyber Monday as the top ranked shopping day for the second year in a row.”

Following a decline in the second week of December, free shipping rebounded during this most recent week, which concluded with Free Shipping Day, according to comScore’s analysis of e-commerce transactions. Each week of the online holiday season-to-date has seen free shipping occur on at least half of all transactions. For the five-day week ending with Free Shipping Day, the percentage of transactions with free shipping reached 56 percent, nearly 4 percentage points higher than the corresponding time period last year.

“Free shipping is undoubtedly one of the most important incentives for consumers and has become a key driver of online buying activity over the past few years,” Fulgoni said. “This season has seen a continuation of the trend where an increasing percentage of transactions involve free shipping, as more consumers demand it and more retailers provide it. During the week of Thanksgiving and Cyber Week we saw at least 3 in 5 transactions use free shipping, significantly higher rates than we’ve ever previously observed.”