December 17, 2007, 12:00 AM

Online spending up 18% so far this year, comScore reports

Lower income consumers are keeping online shopping for the holiday season so far at 18% growth over a year ago, comScore Networks Inc. reports. Households with incomes under $50,000 have spent 10% more this holiday season vs. 28% for those over $100,000.

Don Davis

Editor in Chief

Lower income consumers are keeping online shopping for the holiday season so far at 18% growth over a year ago, comScore Networks Inc. reports. Households with income under $50,000 have increased their online spending by 10% this holiday season while those with incomes over $100,000 have increased theirs by 28%. Those in the middle increased their spending by 17%.

Through last Friday (Dec. 14), consumers had spent $22.67 billion online since Nov. 1 vs. $19.15 billion in the same period a year ago, comScore reports. ComScore is projecting an increase in online spending of 20% for the two months of holiday shopping compared to a 26% increase last year.

By contrast, total retail spending in November, excluding autos, gas stations and restaurants, was up 5.1%, the National Retail Federation reports.

“The current economic realities appear to be having a negative impact on the growth in consumer spending,” says comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “From the sub-prime housing meltdown to a decline in home values to higher gas prices and an uncertain stock market, many consumers across all income segments are either feeling the pinch this holiday season or are lacking the confidence to spend at the rate they had in the past. Consumers in lower income segments appear to be the most affected, as evidenced by the sluggish growth in their rate of online spending.”

Online spending could experience a rebound today and tomorrow, Fulgoni says.“Despite the strong surge in spending we observed at the beginning of last week, with both Monday and Tuesday easily surpassing $800 million in sales and showing very strong growth rates, the remainder of the week saw more modest spending,” he says. “However, we anticipate that spending at the beginning of this week will again be strong with most free shipping deals available until Tuesday, December 18.”

By retail sector, department stores experienced the greatest growth in online sales for 12 days starting with the Monday before Thanksgiving compared to last year, up 39%, reports web analytics company Coremetrics Inc. Intimate apparel had the second largest growth at 19%.

Coremetrics’ numbers are based on its LIVEmark Index examining 35 metrics addressing performance indicators for 300 retailers using Coremetrics’ LIVEmark product.

Online sales growth for all companies in the LIVEmark Index grew 21.8% compared to 2006.

Most of the sectors in the Coremetrics index experienced an increase in average ticket, with the sports apparel ticket increasing 12%. The Coremetrics index reports the following data for first 12 days of holiday shopping growth, 2007 vs. 2006:

Retail sector
Number of sales
Online checkouts
Average order
Department Store
37%
34%
3%
Intimate Apparel
19%
17%
2%
Sports Apparel
17%
4%
12%
Health and Beauty
17%
25%
-5%
Office Supply/Electronics
16%
16%
1%
Apparel
13%
15%
-1%
Home
6%
9%
-3%

"Across the board our clients are experiencing year over year growth in traffic and in shopping," says Joe Davis, CEO of Coremetrics. "With the holidays being a critical time for most retailers, our goal with the LIVEmark Index is to arm them with a clear understanding of business performance, relative to peers and competitors, so they can effectively allocate marketing dollars to capitalize on the season."

Nielsen Online also reported that Dec. 10 has been the busiest shopping day so far, with 34.9 million unique visitors to the Nielsen Online Holiday eShopping Index.

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