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Online Shopping Led Holiday Sales

NEW YORK – A shorter shopping window and severe wintry weather contributed to double-digit sales gains for etailers during Holiday 2013.

According to market research firm ComScore, online spending excluding transactions through mobile devices grew 21 percent from Thanksgiving through Dec. 15, to $19.2 billion, while MasterCard similarly pegged e-tail sales growth in the low-double digits for the Nov. 1-Dec. 24 period.

Pam Goodfellow, consumer insights director for pollster Prosper Insights & Analytics, said a shorter holiday season with six less days between Thanksgiving and Christmas helped drive consumers online. “Last-minute shoppers don’t have quite the breathing room they did last year when there were four full weekends,” she noted. Indeed, a joint survey with the National Retail Federation (NRF) showed that as of Dec. 9, fully 50 percent of shoppers were planning to do the remainder of their holiday shopping online, the highest percentage in the survey’s 11-year history.

What’s more, “Consumers who were stuck indoors by bad weather for the final two weekends of the season turned to online shopping to check items off their list and that helped drive eCommerce growth,” noted MasterCard Advisors’ market insights senior VP Sarah Quinlan.

Indeed, ComScore said online sales soared 41 percent to $1.6 billion two weekends before Christmas, underscoring a shift toward cyber shopping on Saturdays and Sundays regardless of the weather.

“One of the most interesting stories we are seeing this holiday season is the explosion in weekend online spending,” said ComScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.

Regardless of when its customers shopped, Amazon said the holiday season was its best ever, with more than 36.8 million items ordered worldwide on Cyber Monday.