U..S. online holiday spending passes $21 billion so far
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U..S. online holiday spending passes $21 billion so far

ComScore (www.comscore.com), a company that "measures the digital world," has reported holiday season retail e-commerce spending for the first 32 days of the November–December 2012 holiday season.

For the holiday season-to-date US$21.4 billion has been spent online, marking a 14-percent increase versus the corresponding days last year. The most recent week saw three individual days eclipse $1 billion in spending, led by Cyber Monday, which became the heaviest online spending day on record at $1.46 billion. However, growth rates softened considerably in the wake of Cyber Monday and through the weekend.

"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," says comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. "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. However, as the urgency to finish one's holiday shopping increases we expect to see growth rates pick up again in the next couple of weeks before Christmas."

An analysis of holiday spending demonstrates how various components are contributing to the current 14% growth rate. Thus far in the season, spending growth is being driven both by an increase in the number of buyers (up 9 % to 128.7 million) and the average spending per buyer (up 5% to $165.90). The increase in spending per buyer is coming primarily from an increase in the number of transactions (up 4% to 2.19 per buyer) as opposed to the amount spent per transaction (up only 1% to $75.90).

"That we are seeing growth come from an increase in both the number of buyers and the average spending per buyers suggests broad-based strength in the e-commerce sector," Fulgoni adds. "It reflects not only the health of the e-commerce channel as more people buy online, but also the health of the consumer who has been willing to spend more online this year than last. It's particularly noteworthy that half of the online population has made an e-commerce  purchase thus far in the holiday season."

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