December 3, 2008, 12:00 AM

Online sales get a boost on Monday to second heaviest day in history

Online retail sales staged a strong recovery Monday, growing 15% over the Monday after Thanksgiving a year ago, comScore Inc. reports. Sales of $846 million made Dec. 1 the second heaviest shopping day in online retailing history.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

Online retail sales staged a strong recovery Monday, growing 15% over the Monday after Thanksgiving a year ago, comScore Inc. reports. Sales of $846 million made Dec. 1 the second heaviest shopping day in online retailing history. Sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving a year ago totaled $733 million.

“Consumers are clearly responding positively to retailers’ aggressive online discounts,” says comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “With Cyber Monday promotions beginning in earnest over the Thanksgiving weekend, consumers have finally begun to open their wallets, setting off a streak of four consecutive days of extremely strong growth. This is an extremely encouraging development for retailers and we can but hope that their aggressive discounting has still left room for profits.”

Cyber Monday is the term coined by online retailer trade group Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation, for the Monday after Thanksgiving.

In the four days from Friday through Monday e-commerce spending jumped 13% as both weekend days and Monday all achieved double-digit gains. Sales those four days totaled $2.15 billion, up from $1.90 billion a year earlier.

The boost was not enough, however, to lift November online sales out of negative territory: Sales for Nov. 1-Dec. 1 were down 2% from November a year ago, falling to $12.03 billion from $12.21 billion.

Because the shifting date of Thanksgiving makes date-to-date comparisons meaningless, comScore bases its sales data on equivalent shopping days relative to Thanksgiving-last year covering Oct. 27 – Nov. 26.

For the first 10 months of 2008, online sales reached $102.1 billion, up 9% from $93.6 billion a year earlier. ComScore is projecting a no-growth holiday shopping season for online sales at $29.2 billion.

ComScore also conducts consumer surveys and reports that in the most recent survey, conducted from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1, 51% of consumers said the level of promotions and discounts is higher this year than last year, while only 12% said there appeared to be fewer. 39% said there seemed to be fewer people shopping in retail stores this year than last year, while only 7% thought there were more.

ComScore offered the following breakdown of sales (in millions), with 2007’s number, 2008’s number and percent change:
Nov. 1 – Dec. 1, $12,217, $12,025, -2%
Pre-Thanksgiving, $10,035, $9,588, -4%
Thanksgiving and later, $2,182, $2,437, 12%
Nov. 27 (Thanksgiving), $272, $288, 6%
Nov. 28 (Friday after Thanksgiving), $531, $534, 1%
Nov. 29-30 (Saturday and Sunday), $645, $769, 19%
Dec. 1 (Monday after Thanksgiving), $733, $846, 15%

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