Retail ecommerce spending for the first 32 days of the November-December 2012 holiday shopping season reached $21.4 billion, marking a 14 percent increase versus the corresponding period last year, according to Internet analytics company comScore. The final week of the 32-day period 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. Growth rates softened in the wake of Cyber Monday and through the subsequent weekend.
"While Cyber Monday was a high point for holiday ecommerce 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," said 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." Some of the softening is a natural post-Cyber Monday lull that is often experienced, an effect that may have been somewhat more pronounced in 2012 given the additional shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, Fulgoni said he expected to see growth rates pick up again in the weeks just before Christmas, as the urgency to finish one's holiday shopping increased.
An analysis of holiday spending demonstrates how various components contributed to the 14 percent growth rate. At the time of the research, spending growth was being driven by an increase in the number of buyers (up nine percent to 128.7 million) and by the average spending per buyer (up five percent to $165.90). The increase in spending per buyer came primarily from an increase in the number of transactions (up four percent to 2.19 per buyer) as opposed to the amount spent per transaction (up only one percent to $75.90).
According to Fulgoni, growth from an increase in both the number of buyers and the average spending per buyers suggests broad-based strength in the ecommerce sector. It reflects not only the health of the ecommerce channel as more people buy online, but also the health of the consumer who was willing to spend more online in 2012 than in 2011, he added, saying it was particularly noteworthy that half of the online population had made an ecommerce purchase at that period in the holiday season.
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