Reston, Va. – Online retail sales rose 13 percent to $9 billion
in the first three week of November, according to ComScore.
The market research firm is also forecasting an 11 percent
increase in e-tail sales year over year for the full holiday season, to $32.4
“The beginning of the online holiday shopping season has gotten
off to an extremely positive start, outperforming our earlier expectations,”
said ComScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “Despite continued high unemployment rates
and other economic concerns, consumers seem to be more willing to open up their
wallets this holiday season than last. While this early spending surge
reflects, in part, heavy promotional activity on the part of retailers
occurring earlier this season, it is nevertheless a very encouraging sign.”
This year free-shipping offers have become a key element in holiday
promotions. According to a ComScore consumer survey conducted Nov. 11-15, more
than three-quarters (77 percent) of respondents considered free delivery
important, and one-third said they wouldn’t make a purchase without it.
Forty-one percent of e-tail purchases included free shipping
during the third quarter, ComScore said.
The survey also showed that consumers are split on the intensity
of this season’s online promotions. Forty percent said the number of sales,
discounts or promotions is about the same compared to last year, while 36
percent perceived an increase and 11 percent perceived a decrease.
Nevertheless, Fulgoni said online spending is surpassing the
totals seen during the comparable period in 2007 prior to the recession, and that
ComScore expects online sales this holiday season to be the highest on record,
with more than $32 billion being spent during the November and December period.