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Online Holiday Sales Rose 10 Percent, but Expectations Unmet

8 Jan, 2014 By: Doug McPherson

RESTON, Va. – Online holiday spending via computers from November through Christmas rose 10 percent to $42.8 billion but fell short of the 14-percent projection because an expected late-season shopping surge never came, says comScore in its final E-commerce report for the holiday

Gian Fulgoni, comScore chairman, says analysts expected consumers would spend heavily later into the season out of necessity to make up for the highly compressed holiday shopping calendar this year. (The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas was six days shorter this year.)

“Unfortunately, that was not in the cards, as the final online shopping week saw considerably softer sales than anticipated, including zero billion-dollar spending days,” Fulgoni says.

Still, the season showed strong early momentum with sales for the first 45 days of the season – Nov. 2 through Dec. 16 – on track to meet or beat expectations, at $37.8 billion. Online sales on Thanksgiving Day were up 21 percent from a year ago – and up 15 percent and 18 percent respectively on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday turned out to be the heaviest shopping day, with $1.73 billion in sales, followed by Tuesday, Dec. 3 ($1.41 billion) and Monday, Dec. 9 (Green Monday), at $1.4 billion. Despite the hype around Black Friday, (Nov. 29), the day after Thanksgiving finished as only the fifth-busiest shopping day, with $1.2 billion in sales.

The 10 days with more than $1 billion in spending was down from 12 last year.

Categories with the biggest gains over last year: video game consoles and accessories; apparel and accessories; consumer electronics; computer hardware; and home and garden products.

In November, comScore had separately projected that holiday online sales from smartphones and tablets would add another $7.1 billion for a digital E-commerce total of $55.2 billion. The firm hasn’t provided a mobile spending total yet, but said it would release a quarterly M-commerce analysis in February.

IBM reports mobile sales accounted for nearly 29 percent of online sales – up 40 percent over 2012. Mobile traffic this holiday season made up nearly half (48 percent) of all online traffic, up 28.3 percent compared to a year ago.

“In the end, we’ll look back at this online holiday season as one where absolute dollar sales gains in consumer spending were held back by heavy retailer price discounting that occurred in an attempt to stimulate consumer demand,” says Fulgoni, adding that shoppers didn’t boost spending enough to compensate for the briefer shopping window this year.

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