December 15, 2010, 9:42 AM

More to come for holiday e-commerce sales

Merchants band together Friday to offer free shipping in time for Christmas.

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Online shoppers spent $954 million on Monday, up 11.7% from the $854 million spent for the same day last year, comScore reported today.

Some companies and analysts have taken to call the second Monday in December, usually a strong day for e-retail sales, “Green Monday.”

“Green Monday represented another banner day for the 2010 holiday season, ranking as the second heaviest online spending day on record behind this year’s Cyber Monday,” says Gian Fulgoni, chairman of the web measurement firm.  On Cyber Monday—the phrase for the first Monday after Thanksgiving—online shoppers spent $1.028 billion, the first billion-dollar day for e-commerce, up 16% from $887 million in 2009.

So far this holiday shopping season, which according to comScore started in Nov. 1, online consumers have spent nearly $23.9 billion, up 12% from $21.3 billion during the comparable period last year.

The web measurement firm expects at least one more notable day for e-commerce this holiday season: Friday, the third annual “Free Shipping Day,” an event created by the site Freeshipping.org. Merchants that take part offer free shipping and delivery by Christmas Eve. At least 125 merchants say they’re participating.

“In recent years we have seen heavy spending days occur even later into the season as consumers continue to gain confidence in retailers and shippers being able to deliver their gifts in time for Christmas,” Fulgoni says.

The sense that at least one more holiday shopping day will merit celebration and press releases is supported by survey finding from comScore’s Holiday Shopping Survey, for which 500 consumers were asked about the progress of their holiday gift efforts.

65% reported they had not finished their holiday shopping. While 33% of those respondents said that was because of a lack of money, 32% said they had not yet found enough time to finish shopping. 11% said they are waiting for last-minute deals, with a further 6% coming across as minor thrill seekers, saying they enjoyed the excitement of shopping as the clock ticked away the final minutes until Christmas. The rest had other, unspecified reasons for waiting or gave no response.

“The survey offered a stark reminder that many consumers are still strapped for cash and may be waiting for their mid-December paychecks before they can finish their shopping,” Fulgoni says. “The second important point is that it’s clear consumers have significant time constraints in their lives, which is one of the key drivers behind the continuing shift in retail dollars to the online medium, as the Internet enables people to shop for many gifts quickly and more efficiently.”

A separate study finds that the average U.S. consumer has completed 49.5% of her holiday shopping. That’s higher than last year, when the average shopper was only 46.7% done by the second week of December, according to the survey for the National Retail Federation conducted by BIGresearch. 37.6% of shoppers surveyed said they plan to buy last-minute gifts online, compared with 38.4% heading for department stores and 36.5% discount stores.

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