Online Holiday Sales Hit $35 Billion

Holiday-SeasonU.S. online holiday sales from Nov. 1 through Dec. 26 increased 15% from a year ago, totaling a record $35.3 billion, according to the latest figures from comScore. For the week ending Christmas Day, online retail spending was up 16% to $2.8 billion. The seasonal gain in e-commerce remains on track with comScore’s projection of a 15% rise from 2010. By the end of December, the Web research firm has forecast that online holiday spending will reach $37.6 billion.

“We can now say with certainty that the $1.25 billion spent on Cyber Monday will rank as the heaviest online spending day of the season for the second consecutive year, but we should also note that it was accompanied by nine other billion-dollar spending days this year,” stated comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni.

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The biggest jump in sales among key holiday shopping days came on Black Friday, when online buying surged 26% from a year ago to $816 million.

The new data also showed that Christmas Day proved a boon to digital content purveyors. New tablets, smartphones and e-readers and began downloading apps, music, TV and e-books. 

On an average day during the holiday season, digital content and subscriptions accounted for 2.8% of retail e-commerce sales. But on Christmas Day, the category swelled to more than 20% of sales. Consistent with past years, comScore expects digital media sales to remain elevated for the entire week following the holiday.

In a similar vein, research from app advertising and analytics firm Flurry Tuesday said that app downloads across its network more than doubled to 242 million on Christmas, while smartphone and tablet activations spiked to 6.8 million from a daily average of 1.5 million earlier in December.

Sales of digital goods overall are up about 30% this holiday season, according to comScore.

With the launch of its $199 Kindle Fire tablet in November offering a range of digital content, that trend should especially benefit Amazon in the fourth quarter. Earlier this month, the company said customers were buying more than a million Kindle Fire units a week.

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