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Online Christmas Retail Sales Growth Fails to Meet Expectations

Discounting to Blame

Dec 26, 2013 5:52 PM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... According to comScore Inc., the final week for online Christmas shopping missed its mark. For the period of November 1 through December 22, comScore determined that seasonal retail sales rose 10 percent year on year to $42.8 billion, which was below expectations of a 14 percent increase.

“Our expectations for the online holiday shopping season anticipated that consumers would spend heavily later into the season out of necessity to make up for the highly compressed holiday shopping calendar this year,” said comScore's chairman, Gian Fulgoni. “Unfortunately, that was not in the cards, as the final online shopping week saw considerably softer sales than anticipated, including zero billion dollar spending days – although Monday and Tuesday came close.”

Fulgoni found that there was strong momentum coming out of Thanksgiving weekend, in addition to heavy online weekend purchases during December. ''Unfortunately, the most recent week fell short of those expectations and it looks like the final season growth rate will end up a few percentage points shy of what we had anticipated. In the end, I think we’ll look back at this online Christmas season as one where absolute dollar sales gains in consumer spending were held back by heavy retailer price discounting that occurred in an attempt to stimulate consumer demand, while at the same time, consumers weren’t willing or able to increase their spending rate to fully compensate for the six-day shorter shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas,'' Fulgoni said.

What was hot for Christmas sales online? According to comScore, video game consoles and accessories ranked as the top-gaining product category compared with 2012. Apparel and  accessories, consumer electronics (bolstered by smartphone sales), computer hardware (bolstered by tablet sales) and home and garden products followed.

The top 10 biggest online sales days for 2013 were led by Cyber Monday (December 2) with a record $1.735 billion in desktop spending, followed by December 3 with $1.41 billion and Green Monday (December 9) with $1.401 billion. The 2013 Christmas season registered 10 days with more than $1 billion in spending, according to comScore; however, that number was down from last year’s total of 12 individual days.

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Tags: christmas, comScore, ecommerce, holiday, Jeff Miller, online sales, retail, spending
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