Retailers are expected to score a modest win today as they report stronger December sales, but — as is typical of the go-go Web world — their online brethren have already started their victory lap.

This story first appeared in the January 6, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

ComScore Inc. reported Wednesday that online sales for the holiday season, including all of November and December, totaled $32.59 billion, 12.1 percent higher than the $29.08 billion reported for 2009.

The new data update a previous report in which online sales between Nov. 1 and Dec. 26 were reported to have risen 12.6 percent to $30.81 billion. Between Dec. 27 and Dec. 31, a period which included a vicious snowstorm along the Eastern seaboard, sales rose 10.1 percent to $1.78 billion from $1.62 billion in the comparable prior-year period.

Gian Fulgoni, chairman of ComScore, noted the final results for holiday outpaced the firm’s earlier projections of 11 percent growth.

“The season will be remembered for an exceptional Cyber Monday, which was the first billion-dollar spending day in history, and the first time we’ve witnessed Cyber Monday rank as the heaviest online spending day of the year,” he said. “And of course, we cannot forget the impact of free shipping, which was used in more than half of all e-commerce transactions this season, up significantly from last year.”

Holiday e-commerce peaked on Nov. 29, Cyber Monday, with $1.03 billion in transactions, followed by Dec. 13, Green Monday, at $954 million. Close behind were Dec. 6, at $943 million, and Dec. 17, Free Shipping Day, at $942 million.

Retail stocks were relatively quiet on Wednesday ahead of the comparable-store sales results today and the government’s update on unemployment Friday. On average, economists project the economy added 145,000 jobs last month and that the unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent from 9.8 percent in November.

The S&P Retail Index inched up 0.3 percent, or 1.64 points, to 509 Wednesday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.3 percent, or 31.71 points, to 11,722.89. Investors have grown more bullish in recent months as the economic recovery appeared to steady and both indices remain near multiyear highs.

Retail gainers Wednesday included Rue 21 Inc., 2.8 percent to $30.92; J. Crew Group Inc., 2.3 percent to $44.04; Saks Inc., 2 percent to $10.99; Gap Inc., 1.2 percent to $22.23, and Aéropostale Inc., 1.1 percent to $24.33.

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