Online Holiday Spend Off To A Strong Start: ComScore

Macy-B

Ecommerce spending for the first 21 days of the holiday season exceeded $9 billion, marking a 13% increase over the same period last year, according to comScore.

"The beginning of the online holiday shopping season has gotten off to an extremely positive start, outperforming our earlier expectations," said comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni. "Despite continued high unemployment rates and other economic concerns, consumers seem to be more willing to open up their wallets this holiday season than last."

Still, the strong numbers are at least partially the result of "heavy promotional activity on the part of retailers," Fulgoni admitted.

One of the more prominent promotions for online purchases is free shipping. When asked how important free shipping is for making an online purchase this holiday season, more than three-quarters -- 77% -- of consumers indicated it was important.

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What's more, recent comScore behavioral data indicated that 41% of retail e-commerce purchases in the third quarter included free shipping.

For the entire 2010 holiday season, comScore predicts that online sales revenue will reach $32.4 billion, representing an 11% gain year-over-year. Better still, this strong growth rate represents an improvement compared to last season's 4% increase.

"After a year in which we already saw growth rates return to solid positive territory, the recent strength in holiday spending has led us to raise our official forecast to 11 percent from the 7 to 9 percent we were initially expecting," Fulgoni said. "We are seeing online spending surpass the totals we saw in 2007 prior to the recession and expect sales this holiday season to be the highest on record with more than $32 billion being spent during the November and December period."

Alongside its reporting of behaviorally monitored e-commerce spending, comScore is also conducting weekly surveys of approximately 500 consumers to determine attitudes and sentiment in regard to the holiday shopping season.

In the most recent survey, conducted on November 11-15, consumers indicated that they believe retailers' promotional activity for the early part of the season has increased in relation to last year.

In particular, 36% of respondents indicated they are seeing more discounts, sales and promotions versus last year, compared to 11% who said there were fewer.

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