Financial Meltdown Fails to Distract Online Shoppers , reports comScore

comScore (NASDAQ : SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, has reported its tracking of holiday season retail e-commerce spending for the first 49 days of the November – December 2008 holiday season. For the holiday season through December 19, $24.03 billion has been spent online, down 1 percent versus the corresponding days last year. The most recent week of the season has seen several strong online spending days, including Monday, December 15 with $859 million in spending to rank as the second heaviest day of the season, behind Tuesday December 9 when $887 million was spent.

“With five fewer days of holiday shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, there is increasing pressure on consumers to make their holiday purchases in time for Christmas,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “As a result, we’ve seen online shoppers continue to spend heavily even later into the season, with the most recent week including four of the top ten spending days of the season. Despite this positive development, the combination of the compressed holiday schedule and the challenging economic situation faced by many consumers means that retailers have their work cut out for them this season.”

This year’s holiday season from Thanksgiving through December 19 has seen average online spending per day of $643 million, 5 percent higher than last year. However, the core holiday shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year is actually 16 percent shorter than last year, which underscores one of the key challenges facing retailers this season: an inability to increase daily sales at a rate sufficient to compensate for fewer shopping days.

For the online holiday shopping season-to-date (thru Dec. 19), Tuesday, December 9 ranks as the heaviest individual spending day of the season with $887 million in sales. Monday, December 15 ranks second with $859 million, followed by Monday, December 1(Cyber Monday) with $846 million. With the heaviest online spending days of the season likely to have already occurred, Cyber Monday 2008 will rank significantly higher in relative spending than it has in previous years. For example, Cyber Monday ranked as the ninth heaviest spending day in 2007 with $733 million in sales and the twelfth heaviest in 2006 with $608 million in sales.

The fastest growing product categories during the period from December 1 through December 19 were Sport & Fitness (up 31 percent), Books & Magazines (up 18 percent), and Video Games, Consoles & Accessories (up 17 percent). Apparel & Accessories, the second largest online retail category by dollar sales, has seen sales grow strongly (up 15 percent) as a result of retailers’ aggressive discounting and unseasonably cold weather across many parts of the country. Following a strong week of Cyber Monday, that was driven by large discounts on products such as flat screen TVs, sales of consumer electronics have slowed significantly in recent weeks. The softest retail categories include Music, Movies & Videos (down 24 percent), Office Supplies (down 19 percent), Jewelry & Watches (down 17 percent) and Home, Garden & Furniture (down 16 percent).

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