Holiday shopping online rockets in US

Dec 28, 2011 by Paul Handley
US consumers turned in record levels to the Internet for holiday shopping this year, further boosting online sellers' share of the huge national retail pie.

US consumers turned in record levels to the Internet for holiday shopping this year, further boosting online sellers' share of the huge national retail pie.

Shopping via the Internet in the seven weeks before Christmas jumped 15 percent over a year earlier, according to market analysts ComScore.

That bests the estimated 3-4 percent growth of sales in brick-and-mortar stores and shopping centers.

More shopping takes place in physical stores, but the comparative pace of growth underscores the threat pose.

Consumers polled by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) said that they were doing slightly more than one-third of their gift shopping online this year, and just under two-thirds in the stores.

"Holiday e-commerce spending has remained strong throughout the season, and we have now reached a record $35 billion... for the season-to-date," ComScore chairman Gian Fulgoni said in a statement Wednesday.

Unlike previous years when Internet sales have been bunched around special promotion dates -- such as "", the Monday after Thanksgiving -- sales have been spread fairly evenly this season, with several days topping the $1 billion mark, according to the company.

Even in the week before Christmas, when shoppers flock to traditional stores for last-minute gifts, online sales were at about $2.8 billion.

Still, brick-and-mortar shop sales have also shown strength, pleasing retailers worried about the weakness of the economy.

According to ICSC research, sales in centers from early November through Christmas were up about 3.3 percent from a year before.

Other storefront retail groups project sales rising 3.5-4 percent.

"These sales numbers have looked better than the economy as a whole," said the ICSC's Michael Niemira.

Consumers have spent the past three years tightening their pocketbooks, but in recent months have let loose with a burst of spending, much of it via credit cards.

"They are in a better position to take on a little more debt," Niemira said.

With greater overhead costs, traditional stores have found it tough to compete with online merchants, especially in an economic climate where Americans pinch every penny they can.

Hit by tough competition, Sears announced on Tuesday that it would shut between 100 and 120 stores in an effort to save costs after a plunge in holiday sales.

Online sales giant Amazon outraged many by encouraging shoppers to go to stores, check and report the prices via a cell phone app, to receive a five percent discount on the same item from its own store.

Big-box electronics retailer Best Buy was forced to boost its own online sales as well as slash prices as it struggles with shoppers who view the products in its stores but then buy them more cheaply from Internet vendors.

Storefront retailers have also stepped up their campaign to have online competitors collect local tax, the exemption from which gives them a pricing advantage in many states.

Explore further: China's Xiaomi raises more than $1 bn in funding

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US Cyber Monday spending hits new high

Nov 30, 2011

US online shopping hit a record high on Cyber Monday with people racking up $1.25 billion worth of purchases on the Internet, according to comScore.

Cyber Monday sales reach record levels

Dec 05, 2011

American consumers spent more than a billion dollars a day last week during a three-day online sales period, which started with "Cyber Monday," a monitoring firm reported.

Recommended for you

China's Xiaomi raises more than $1 bn in funding

8 hours ago

China's top smartphone seller Xiaomi Corp. is raising more than $1 billion in a fresh round of funding, a move which would raise its valuation above $45 billion, a report said Sunday.

Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan

Dec 20, 2014

Japan's biggest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, featured a story about Sony Corp. on its website Friday. It wasn't about hacking. It was about the company's struggling tablet business.

Sony faces 4th ex-employee lawsuit over hack

Dec 20, 2014

A former director of technology for Sony Pictures Entertainment has sued the company over the data breach that resulted in the online posting of his private financial and personal information.

Sony tells AFP it still plans movie release

Dec 20, 2014

Sony Pictures boss Michael Lynton denied Friday the Hollywood studio has "caved" by canceling the release of "The Interview," and said it still hoped to release the controversial film.

2012 movie massacre hung over 'Interview' decision

Dec 19, 2014

When a group claiming credit for the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment threated violence against theaters showing "The Interview" earlier this week, the fate of the movie's big-screen life was all but ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.