The industry seems to be of two minds about whether this holiday season was a boom or a bust, and the most recent numbers reflecting online sales are more grist for the analysis mill.
ComScore on Dec. 30 gave its latest snapshot of e-commerce sales this holiday season and reported a 19 percent boost compared with last year, with nearly $28 billion spent by consumers from Nov. 1 through Dec. 27.
That figure is lower than the 26 percent growth rate registered for the same period in 2006, but ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni told eWEEK that the 2007 performance is actually quite good in context.
"For example, the day after Christmas saw online sales of $545 million, more than double the sales on the same day last year," Fulgoni argued in the report. "This would appear to indicate that consumers were willing, and able, to take advantage of the attractive late-season promotions and price discounts offered by retailers this year."
The numbers can be cherry-picked even further. Sales on Thanksgiving Day 07 were a whopping 29 percent higher than Thanksgiving Day 06.
This trend may be attributed to the growth in residential broadband. In years past, the so-called Black Friday spike happened on Friday morning, as people reported back to work and used corporate broadband connections to start shopping. Now, more consumers can start in right after the pumpkin pie while still at home (or even hitting their Treo or iPhone while pretending to listen to a random in-law).
Also according to ComScore, the sharpest one-day rise year-over-year occurred on Dec. 10, which showed an impressive 33 percent increase.
Fulgoni said these numbers are especially impressive when various external factors-warming temperatures, a weak housing market and rising gas prices among them-are thrown into the eggnog mix.
"Warm weather during the early part of November took its toll on online retail sales, and played a role in holding down the growth in spending over the entire holiday season to a 19 percent rate," Fulgoni said. "However, if we look at the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we see online spending growing at a healthier 21 percent rate, which I think is encouraging given the economic challenges facing consumers this year as a result of higher gas prices, lower home values and a jittery stock market."
Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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