Commentary

Holiday Online Spending Grew in Big Buck Households, And Beat Stores in Some Categories

Trends in online spending outperformed offline in several key product categories, says comScore in new spending data by category for the online holiday shopping season.

Comparing e-commerce data to overall (online and offline) consumer spending data published by MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse for the periods Nov. 1 - Dec. 24 vs. year ago, several product categories Online outperformed overall consumer spending, including:

  • Sales of Apparel & Accessories up 4 percent online, compared to a 19-21 percent decline in overall sales of the category
  • Consumer Electronics declined 5 percent online
  • Home, Garden and Furniture declined 14 percent online, compared to a 26-percent decline in overall sales of Electronics/ Appliances
  • Jewelry & Watches declined 24 percent online, compared to a 34-percent decline in overall sales of Luxury Goods (including Jewelry & Watches)

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According to comScore, the top growing online product category for the season was Sport & Fitness, which grew 18 percent versus year ago. The category benefits from consumers' focus on health and fitness and consumers feeling more comfortable purchasing higher-priced fitness equipment, such as treadmills and elliptical machines, online.

The second fastest-growing category was Video Games, Consoles & Accessories, which grew 14 percent on continued demand for popular consoles, such as the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Apparel & Accessories, the only other product category with positive online growth, generated higher sales as a result of retailers' aggressive discounting and promotions, and helped by unfavorable weather across much of the country.

Top Online Non-Travel Spending for 2008 Holiday Season(Total U.S. - Home/Work/University Locations)

Product Category

Y/Y Percent Change

Sport & Fitness

18%

Video Games, Consoles & Accessories

14%

Apparel & Accessories

4%

Books & Magazines

-1%

Consumer Electronics 

-5%

Flowers, Greetings & Gifts

-7%

Toys

 -7%

Computer Hardware

-8%

Home, Garden & Furniture

-14%

Event Tickets

-18%

Jewelry & Watches

-24%

Computer Software (Excl. PC Games)

-24%

Office Supplies

-30%

Music, Movies & Videos

-32%

Source: comScore, Inc. (Dec. 1-24, 2008 vs. Nov. 26 - Dec. 19, 2007)

comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni concludes that "For an online holiday shopping season that recorded a disappointing 3-percent decline in sales... e-commerce trends outperformed overall consumer spending in several product categories... (i.e.) e-commerce continued to capture an increasing share of consumers' wallet... when the consumer economy eventually does rebound, e-commerce is poised to benefit... as an important consumer sales channel."

Analyzing non-travel e-commerce spending by household income segment for the holiday shopping season, comScore found that growth in online spending only occurred within households making at least $100,000 in annual income, while lower income segments logged significant declines in spending. Those households earning less than $50,000 per year appear to be the most affected by the current economic environment, with their online spending declining by 13 percent versus year ago.

2008 Holiday Season Consumer Online Spending vs. Corresponding Days in 2007(Total U.S. - Home/Work/University Locations)

Annual Household Income

Spending Growth Rate

$0-$49,999  

-13%

$50,000-$99,999

-8%

$100,000+

7%

Source: comScore, Inc. Dec. 1-24, 2008 vs. Nov. 26 - Dec. 19, 2007

Please visit comScore here for additional information.

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