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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Final Results: Holiday Online Spending Hits a Record $37.2 billion

Retail e-commerce spending for the November – December 2011 holiday season (November 1 - December 31) increased 15 percent, year-over-year, to $37.2 billion, an all-time record for the season, according to comScore, a company that measures digital data and provides digital business analytics.

Ten individual spending days surpassed $1 billion in sales, as compared to just one day reaching that mark in 2010, the Reston, Va.-based company said. Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving Day, November 28) ranked as the heaviest online spending day of the year at $1.25 billion, the second consecutive year it has ranked first for the season. The second heaviest spending day was Monday, December 5 at $1.17 billion, followed by Monday, December 12 at $1.13 billion. Tuesday, November 29 ($1.11 billion) and Tuesday, December 6 ($1.10 billion).

With the relative newness and growing acceptance of digital e-commerce, it’s common for online sales to exceed the prior year’s results. However, the 2011 holiday season was exceptional by any standard.

“With brick-and-mortar holiday retail estimated to have grown about 4 percent this year, it’s clear that e-commerce continues to gain market share from traditional retail due to the attractiveness of the Internet’s convenience and lower prices,” said Gian Fulgoni, comScore chairman. “Consumers were especially attracted to the deals and discounts available through digital channels—particularly free shipping, which occurred on well over half of transactions this season. Despite their continuing price sensitivity, consumers felt a bit more comfortable opening up their wallets this year, although this appears to have occurred as a result of a decline in the savings rate. Nonetheless, it’s clear that, at least on the basis of top line growth, this was a Merry Christmas for many online retailers. What will remain unknown until retailers report their financial year end results is whether the aggressive pricing and free shipping offers came at the cost of lower margins.”

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