Online Holiday Spending Up 20% To $30B

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Holiday e-commerce spending likely reached a record $29.5 billion last year, representing a 20 percent increase over 2006 levels according to projections by market research firm ComScore.

The company, which tracks the online transaction behavior of over 2 million consumers, defines the holiday selling season as the two full months of November and December.

ComScore issued its forecast in mid-December based on strong season-to-date sales data. Nearly $19 billion had been spent online through Dec. 9, marking an 18-percent gain vs. the corresponding days in 2006. Moreover, Web-based sales skyrocketed 28 percent on Dec. 6 to $803 million, making it the heaviest online spending day in history to date.

The week of Dec. 3-9 "was very strong for online retailers as consumers spent more than $4.6 billion online, up 20 percent vs. year ago, making it the heaviest week of the holiday season to date," said ComScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. "Consumers seemingly restrained their early November holiday spending in the hopes of catching some attractive late-season deals, so we expect that [the week of Dec. 10-16] will outperform the previous week as the heaviest of the season." E-tailers generally consider Dec. 18 the cutoff date for Christmas orders.

Consumer electronics also experienced a strong week of Web-based sales during the Dec. 3-9 period, with online orders up 43 percent compared with 2006, which outpaced its 23-percent growth rate season-to-date.

During the 2007 holiday season, online spending peaked during the middle of the day, driven by the heavy influence of shopping from work, ComScore said. Buying while at work accounted for 45 percent of all e-commerce dollars spent this holiday season, with more than half of all online spending occurring between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. The heaviest spending (26.9 percent) occurred during the noon to 3:00 p.m. time segment.

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