Online retail spending for the fourth quarter of 2011 increased 14 percent, year-over-year, to $49.7 billion, according to comScore, which measures digital data. This growth rate represents the ninth consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth and fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth rates. For the entire 2011 year, U.S. retail e-commerce spending reached a record $161.5 billion, a 13-percent increase from 2010.
“The fourth quarter of 2011 capped off what was yet another strong year for online retail, one in which every quarter achieved double-digit increases versus the prior year,” said Gian Fulgoni, comScore chairman. “In the face of continuing uncertainty regarding the U.S. economy, consumers increasingly went online for their shopping needs. Price and convenience continue to be the critical value drivers for e-commerce, and unless those conditions change we can expect to see more channel-shifting to online in 2012 and perhaps even an acceleration in the current growth trend.”
Other highlights from Q4 2011 include:
* The top-performing online product categories were: Digital Content & Subscriptions, Jewelry & Watches, Consumer Electronics, Toys & Hobbies, and Computer Software. Each category grew at least 18 percent vs. year ago.
* Ten individual days in Q4 surpassed $1 billion in online spending, led by Cyber Monday (Nov. 28) at $1.25 billion. Monday, Dec. 5 ranked second at $1.17 billion, followed by Green Monday (Dec. 12) at $1.13 billion.
* 52 percent of e-commerce transactions included free shipping, representing an all-time high. The previous high was Q4 2010 at 49 percent.
* Smartphones and tablets played a growing role in online shopping, with consumes increasingly using smartphones to check prices and product features while physically in a retail store.
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