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E-commerce Continues Holiday Acceleration

Growth slows after Cyber Monday, according to ComScore, but maintains double-digit momentum.

E-commerce has continued to grow at a double-digit pace this holiday season, with no signs of a slowdown in sight.

Digital scorekeeper ComScore Inc. said Wednesday that Internet sales for the holiday season to date — a period covering Nov. 1 to Dec. 2 — have risen 14.4 percent, to $21.35 billion from $18.67 billion during the comparable 2011 period. Sales on Cyber Monday, Nov. 26, were up 17.1 percent, to $1.47 billion from $1.25 billion for the 2011 edition, while e-commerce sales on Black Friday, Nov. 23, busted through the $1 billion threshold, ending up a stirring 27.7 percent to $1.04 billion from $816 million last year.

Retailers also saw a dramatic rise in Thanksgiving Day sales online, which gained 32.2 percent to reach $633 million from $479 million a year ago.

Results for the five-day week beginning on Cyber Monday fared somewhat less spectacularly, growing 10.8 percent to $5.46 billion from $4.93 billion a year ago and putting the average for the week above $1 billion a day for the first time.

“While Cyber Monday was a high point for holiday e-commerce spending and Cyber Week saw several strong spending days, there was a clear softening in the growth rate during the back half of the week,” said Gian Fulgoni, chairman of ComScore. “It is likely that, to some extent, holiday spending was pulled forward to the Thanksgiving-Black Friday period given the heightened promotional activity around that time.

“And some of the softening is a natural post-Cyber Monday lull that we often experience, an effect that may be somewhat more pronounced this year given the additional shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” he continued, adding that the “urgency” to conclude holiday shopping is likely to accelerate growth rates as Christmas nears.

Growth so far this season has come from a variety of sources. The number of buyers grew 8.5 percent, to 128.7 million from 118.6 million, and spending per buyer, spending per transaction and transactions per buyer have risen. The average online consumer has laid out $165.90 so far this holiday season, up 5.4 percent, while the amount spent per transaction is up 1.5 percent, to $75.90. Transaction per buyer is just below 2.2 this year, up from 2.1 last year.

Back in the world of bricks and mortar, ShopperTrak, which measures traffic and purchasing in physical stores, reported that year-over-year increases for the week spanning Nov. 25 to Dec. 1 came to 3.7 percent for foot traffic and 2.3 percent for sales, translating into respective declines of 28.8 percent and 22.4 percent for those metrics from the preceding week, which included both Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. The Chicago-based company described the declines from the Thanksgiving week frenzy as “typical.”

Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak, commented, “Black Friday shopping remains an American tradition, and consumers took advantage of promotions the entire week this year. Many usually scale back their in-store visits around this time in favor of online shopping for Cyber Monday deals. We expect consumers to return to stores in increasing numbers to complete their holiday shopping in the coming weeks.”