December 2, 2009, 12:00 AM

Online holiday weekend sales were up 7.4% as Monday’s sales tie a record

More consumers shopped online and fewer went to stores this weekend. That development led to a comparable shift in sales results: Online sales for the weekend rose 7.4%, while overall retail sales grew only 1.6%, according to reports released today.

More consumers shopped online and fewer went to stores and malls this weekend. That shift in shopping behavior led to a comparable shift in sales results: Online sales for the weekend were up 7.4%, while overall retail sales grew only 1.6%, according to reports released today.

For Thanksgiving Day through Monday, U.S. retail web sales increased to $2.61 billion from $2.43 billion in the same five-day period last year, reports comScore Inc., which based its estimate on the actual online activity of several hundred thousand U.S. consumers. That included $887 million in sales on Monday, often called Cyber Monday because it has become a major day for online shopping, a 5% increase from last year and equal to the heaviest online shopping day ever, which was Dec. 9, 2008, comScore says.

Behind the online sales increase is growth in the number of consumers shopping on the web, comScore says. On Monday, 8.7 million consumers shopped online, up 6% from 8.2 million on the Monday after Thanksgiving last year. Average spend per shopper was down slightly-$102.19 this year versus $103.72-and more than half of the dollars spent (52.7% versus 50.4% last year) were on purchases made from work, comScore says.

It was a very different story at the mall. Total Thanksgiving weekend retail sales grew only 1.6% to $20.1 billion, while foot traffic to bricks-and-mortar retail stores declined 1.1%, according to ShopperTrak, which monitors traffic at shopping malls and well-known retail stores.

For the month of November, online retail sales increased 3% to $12.26 billion from $11.87 billion in November 2008, comScore estimates. But the MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse report released today showed faster growth of 12.3% for the month, and an even stronger jump in traffic. “Notably the e-commerce channel saw an 18.3% increase in shopping traffic over the same period in 2008, demonstrating that consumers are increasingly more comfortable with making purchases online,” says Michael McNamara, vice president of research and analysis at SpendingPulse. MasterCard’s estimates include all retail spending, not just on credit and debit cards.

Some service providers to online retailers reported even higher growth. Retail Decisions says its U.S. e-retail clients increased sales by 47% on a same-store basis on Friday and Monday, the two biggest shopping days of the weekend. Retail Decisions provides payment processing and fraud-prevention to some of the largest online retailers-including Walmart.com, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Sears and Nordstrom-and CEO Carl Clump says those big chains have been heavily marketing their online brands. “It’s paying off for them,” Clump says.

There is some evidence big online retailers took market share this weekend. A study of 13 large retail sites by web measurement firm Compete shows those sites accounted for 54.1% of online retail purchases on Friday versus 47.8% for the same sites on the same day last year. Those 13 sites, all in the top 50 of theInternet Retailer Top 500 Guide, are: Amazon.com (1); Sears.com and Kmart.com, both owned by Sears Holdings Corp. (7); QVC.com (11); Walmart.com and SamsClub.com, both owned by Wal-Mart Stores (13); Costco.com (14); JCPenney.com (15); Target.com (20); Macys.com (23); Overstock.com (29); Nordstrom.com (32); and Kohls.com (50).

But MarketLive Inc., an e-commerce technology provider primarily to midsized merchants, says its clients sold 30.7% more in the five days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, and attracted 64.2% more visitors. MarketLive merchants followed the lead of larger retailers in promoting web-only sales Thanksgiving Day, leading to an increase of 138% in sales and 132% in visits on that day. “The big-box merchants put a lot of energy into promoting Thanksgiving Day as a shopping day online, and other merchants followed along,” says MarketLive chairman Ken Burke.

Mercent, which provides interactive marketing services to some 120 online retailers, says same-seller sales were up 33% for its clients on Monday versus the same day last year. Mercent facilitates sales through online marketplaces like Amazon.com and eBay, and the company reports especially strong sales through the Amazon channel on Monday-up 47% from the same day in 2008.

Here are some other reports of holiday and November online sales:

  • Same-store sales were up 50% Monday and 26% for the five-day holiday period for retailer clients of e-commerce technology and service provider GSI Commerce Inc.
  • Drugstore.com Inc. says it had its best day ever Monday, although it didn’t provide details, and credited more deals than in past years and a broader selection at its e-commerce sites, drugstore.com and beauty.com. Drugstore is No. 48 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide (a PDF version of the company’s financial and operating profile can be ordered by clicking on its name).

  • The Internet division of Dreams Inc., which operates FansEdge.com and other sports-related e-commerce sites, says its revenues increased to $9.0 million in November, up 64% from $5.5 million in November 2008. Drugstore is No. 217 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide (a PDF version of the company’s financial and operating profile can be ordered by clicking on its name).

  • Shop.NHL.com, the e-commerce site of the National Hockey League, produced crowd-pleasing results Monday, producing its highest single-day sales and increasing revenue 108% over the Monday after Thanksgiving last year. Drugstore is No. 289 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide (a PDF version of the company’s financial and operating profile can be ordered by clicking on its name).

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