Online Shopping Season Winds Down Early

Many consumers may have rushed to the stores on Saturday and Sunday before Christmas, but those who shopped online were done long before that. comScore Networks last week reported that during the week ending Dec. 20, 2002 online consumer sales totaled $1.9 billion, reflecting 19% growth versus the week before Christmas last year (week ending Dec. 21, 2001). At the same time, spending on non-travel goods and services increased 18% versus year-ago to $1.4 billion, while travel increased 21% to $474 million.

"Following a robust holiday shopping season, fueled by aggressive and early promotions, online consumer sales are finally winding down," said comScore vice president Michelle David Adams last week. "While growth rates slowed somewhat more than expected in the most recent week, overall fourth-quarter growth rates are impressive and sales are on track to come within close range of comScore's original fourth-quarter non-travel forecast of $13.8 billion. With nearly two weeks still remaining in the quarter, non-travel spending has already reached $12.1 billion."

Cumulative consumer online sales for the period from Nov. 1 through Dec. 20, 2002 reached $12.6 billion, up 29% versus the same period last year. Non-travel sales increased 23%t versus year-ago to $8.5 billion, while online travel sales increased 51 percent to $4.1 billion.

For the period from Nov. 1 through Dec. 20, Home and Garden ranks as the fastest growing major merchandise category, increasing 78% over last year to $555 million. Furniture and Appliances increased 75% to $171 million, while Toys increased 61% to $396 million.

Computer Hardware was the largest merchandise category based on dollar sales for the period from Nov. 1 through Dec. 20. However, mirroring the overall softness of the tech sector, sales of Computer Hardware decreased 1% versus year-ago to $1.6 billion. Apparel and Accessories continued its recent impressive performance and was the second largest category with sales of $1.5 billion and growth of 31%. Consumer Electronics was the third largest category, with sales of $1.0 billion, up 21% versus year ago.

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