Just an Online Minute... From the Government
The U.S. Commerce Department released a report today, which says consumers boosted their online purchases from July to September at a rapid pace, which bodes well for the health of the e-retail sector this holiday season. Online purchases of goods including books, clothes and toys jumped 15.3% from the second quarter to $6.373 billion in the third quarter, even as total retail sales fell 0.4%, the report said.
Conversely, despite the large gain, online sales accounted for less than 1% of total retail sales. Nevertheless, the Garner Group expects online holiday sales are expected to double to $19.5 billion worldwide this year and some analysts estimate 10 million people will shop online for toys alone during the month of December.
But this holiday season people aren't quite as eager to part with their money as they were last year - online or off - according to the Consumer Federation of America and the Credit Union National Association. Many consumers are scaling back their holiday spending plans in part because of concerns about paying off credit card debt.
While more than half of Americans plan to spend the same amount as last year, 24% say they will spend less and 18% plan to spend more.
The relatively small difference between those who plan to spend less or more is enough to support predictions that growth in consumer spending will slow, as Bill Hampel, chief economist with CUNA, told Reuters. Those forecasts predict about a 3% to 4% sales increase at stores this holiday shopping season, compared with 7% last year.