November 23, 2011, 9:13 AM

Holiday spending jumps 14%

Online shoppers so far this season have spent $9.67 billion, comScore says.

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U.S. consumers so far this holiday shopping season have spent $9.67 billion with online retailers, a 14.2% increase from last year, according to figures released today by comScore Inc. In 2010, consumers spent $8.47 million between Nov. 1 and Nov. 20, the web measurement firm says. ComScore projects a 15% increase in 2011 holiday e-commerce sales over last year.

Wednesday, Nov. 16, stands as the most lucrative day yet this year for online retailers, with consumers spending $688 million, comScore says.

“The 2011 online holiday shopping season has shown strength in the early going,” says comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “With the persistent backdrop of macroeconomic uncertainty and continued high unemployment, consumers appear to be increasingly favoring the online benefits of convenience and lower prices. Based on the expectation that these positive spending trends will continue for the season, this year promises to be a Merry Christmas indeed for online retailers.”

ComScore says it expects online shoppers to spend $37.6 billion this holiday season, up 15.3% from $32.6 billion in 2010. “These projected growth rates reflect the significant channel shift we’re witnessing from offline retail as an increasing number of consumers rely on the online channel for initial browsing, price comparisons and completing transactions,” Fulgoni says. Last year, consumers spent 12% more than they did during the 2009 holiday season, comScore says.

Its new holiday projection follows a 13% increase in e-commerce spending in the third quarter of 2011 compared with the same period a year ago, according to a comScore estimate from earlier this month. The new holiday projection also matches a 15% spending increase predicted by Forrester Research Inc.; the research firm says consumers will spend $59.5 billion online in November and December, up from $51.7 billion last year. It was not immediately clear what transactions the two firms were including in their estimates and how those transactions differed.

ComScore, via a survey of 1,000 consumers conducted between Nov. 17 and Nov. 21, also reports that 33% of consumers say they are finding more discounts, sales and promotions than they did last year; only 7% say they are finding fewer offers. Additionally, the survey found that 76% of consumers think that free shipping is either very important (30%) or somewhat important (46%) in making online purchases.

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