12/10/12

Big day, bigger week

ComScore says sales so far this holiday season are up 13% over last year.

Katie Evans , Managing Editor, International Research

Online U.S. shoppers spent $26.6 billion between Nov. 1 and Dec. 7, up 13% over the same time period last year, according to web measurement firm comScore Inc.

Between Dec. 1 and Dec. 7 web spending hit the $1 billion-dollar-mark on three days: Monday, Dec. 3 ($1.117 billion), Tuesday, Dec. 4 ($1.362 billion) and Wednesday, Dec. 5 ($1.051 billion)—bringing to seven the total number of billion-dollar spending days for the season. Last holiday season, e-retail spending hit the $1 billion mark on 10 days. ComScore tracks the online purchasing behavior of one million U.S. consumers for its projections.

However, the comScore report wasn’t all upbeat. "Despite posting three consecutive billion-dollar spending days and five in excess of $950 million, this past week saw a noticeable softening in e-commerce momentum as growth rates dipped into single-digits after beginning the season in the mid-teens," says comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. "However, we expect this lull to be a temporary effect having more to do with the extended shopping calendar this year with two additional shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, rather than weakening consumer fundamentals. This upcoming week led by Green Monday is likely to be the heaviest online spending week in history, with a realistic chance of delivering five billion-dollar days."

Green Monday, the second Monday in December and newest holiday shopping day to get its own name, is likely to be one of the heaviest online spending days of the season, comScore says, and the top spending day for what is expected to the busiest online spending week on record. While online spending on the second Monday in December has doubled over the past six years to reach more than $1.1 billion last year, it has played second fiddle to Cyber Monday in the past few years. In fact it has not held the top online spending spot the since 2007, according to comScore.

"Green Monday got its moniker several years ago because of the widely held misconception at the time that Cyber Monday was the heaviest online shopping day of the season, when in reality it was lucky to crack the top ten,” Fulgoni says. “Green Monday came to refer to that Monday near mid-December when online spending actually tended to peak as consumers hurried to finish their online shopping in time for shipments to arrive before Christmas. While we still see that steady build in spending continuing into mid-December, Cyber Monday's intense promotional activity has vaulted it into the top spot in recent years while Green Monday has had to settle for a spot in the top three. Still, it should be a very active online shopping day that will post a strong total when all is said and done."

Shipper FedEx meanwhile says today will be the heaviest shipping day of 2012, with drivers dropping 19 million packages at doorsteps, up nearly 11% from 2011. “Today’s shipment volume is double the volume we see on a normal business day,” a FedEx spokesman says. “To put the growth in perspective, we had 9.8 million shipments on the same day in 2005.” FedEx expects to deliver 280 million packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas, up about 13% from the same period last year, he says.

UPS, on the other hand, says its workers will get the greatest workout on Dec. 20, when they will deliver 28 million packages, or around 300 packages per second.

“This year UPS will deliver 527 million packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas—the most UPS has ever delivered,” a UPS spokeswoman says. “Our average daily volume is 15.8 million packages.”

Meanwhile, with precisely two weeks remaining until Christmas Eve, some web retailers are pulling out the promotional stops in hopes of keeping sales flowing.

6pm.com, a discount apparel and footwear site operated by Zappos.com, is offering a Green Monday promotion today selling a different item for $24 each hour of the day. On Dec. 12 (12-12-12) it will kick off another flash sale at 6 p.m. Pacific time, offering hundreds of products for sale all listed in multiples of 12 ($12, $24 and $48). It’s also offering free standard shipping until Dec. 14 and a free shipping upgrade for orders of $100 or more that are placed by Dec. 19. And it’s not stopping after Old Saint Nick arrives. The day after Christmas, 6pm.com is selling 24 items for 24 hours priced at $24. 

Topics:

billion dollar days, Christmas, comScore Inc., e-commerce, FedEx, Gian Fulgoni, Green Monday, holiday 2012, holiday sales, Online shopping, Thanksgiving, UPS

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