Online retail sales should increase 15 percent year on year to $37.6 billion for the Christmas 2011 season, according to metrics firm comScore Inc. The company’s measure includes the full months of November and December. For the first 20 days of November, online retail sales have already increased 14 percent year on year to $9.7 billion, comScore noted. Wednesday, November 16 has been the heaviest online spending day so far at $688 million.
”The 2011 online holiday shopping season has shown strength in the early going with a year-over-year growth rate of 14 percent,” said comScore’s 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.”
Alongside its reporting of behaviorally monitored e-commerce spending, comScore is also conducting regular surveys of approximately 1,000 consumers to determine attitudes and sentiment towards Christmas shopping. In the most recent survey, conducted this past week, consumers indicated that they believe retailers’ promotional activity for the early part of the season has increased in relation to 2010. Specifically, 33 percent of respondents indicated that they are seeing more discounts, sales and promotions vs. last year compared to just 7 percent who said there were fewer.
One of the more prominent incentives for online purchases is free shipping. When asked how important free shipping is for making an online purchase this holiday season, 76 percent of consumers indicated it was important and 47 percent indicated they would abandon a purchase if they got to checkout and found that free shipping was not included. In addition, comScore behavioral data indicate that 40 percent of retail e-commerce purchases in the third quarter included free shipping, and that percentage peaked in fourth quarter 2010 at 49 percent.