By  on December 30, 2010

The solid holiday performance of brick-and-mortar retailers did nothing to stop the progress of online shopping, which more than doubled its growth rate for the season.

ComScore Inc. reported that online sales grew 12.6 percent, to $30.81 billion from $27.37 billion, during the 56 days spanning Nov. 1 to Dec. 26. In the 54 days from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24 in 2009, online sales rose a more modest 4.9 percent, to $27.12 billion from $25.85 billion during the 2008 period, which had one less shopping day. Online sales in the U.S. declined 3 percent during the 2008 holiday season.

In the week ended Dec. 26, the most recent measured by the Reston, Va.-based digital research firm, online sales perked up 16.8 percent to $2.45 billion from $2.1 billion in the comparable 2009 period. ComScore’s numbers didn’t include data for Dec. 27, when most consumers along the Eastern seaboard, hit by a massive snowstorm, were unable to get to stores but presumably had less trouble navigating the Internet.

ShopperTrak RCT Corp. last week reported that, hurt by a calendar shift, sales for the week ended Christmas Day declined 4.1 percent, with traffic down 6.8 percent. However, ShopperTrak’s projections are for brick-and-mortar retailers only and exclude online sales.

Apparel and accessories failed to keep up with the overall online growth rate in the U.S. this year, growing 8 percent during the holiday season and grabbing the final spot on ComScore’s list of top 10 growth categories. However, jewelry and watches grabbed the sixth spot with 11 percent growth. ComScore declined to provide specific sales figures.

Helped by sales of the iPad, iPhone and numerous other mobile devices, computer hardware led all categories with a 23 percent online growth rate for holiday, followed by books and magazines at 22 percent and consumer electronics at 21 percent. Computer software, excluding games for personal computers, ranked fourth with a 20 percent advance, followed by toys at 16 percent and then jewelry and watches. Video games, consoles and accessories picked up 9 percent, as did music, movies and videos, followed by furniture, appliances and equipment, which tied apparel and accessories with an 8 percent gain.

Gian Fulgoni, ComScore chairman, said, “For at least this holiday season, the American consumer has been able to shrug off the continuing economic challenges of high unemployment rates and depressed housing prices and spend at a rate that has been slightly stronger than we had expected.”

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