Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Online spending during holiday shopping season is strongest ever

Online Holiday SalesBrick-and-mortar stores weren’t the only recipients of consumer love, as the holiday season kicked off with Black Friday and Cyber Monday following Thanksgiving. Even before Cyber Monday (the biggest online shopping day of the year) actually began, shoppers were heading online to get great deals. According to the analytics firm comScore, U.S. online spending on the Black Friday weekend was the strongest it’s ever been, up 11% over the prior year, with $595 million spent online.

A jump that high is worth taking notice of, especially when you consider that the increase in brick-and-mortar sales from 2008 to 2009 was only 0.5%. Of course, brick-and-mortar spending greatly overshadowed online spending for Black Friday weekend, but the huge disparity between yearly increases for both areas of sales is interesting to note.

And that rise in sales carried over to Cyber Monday as well. According to comScore, Cyber Monday sales were up 5% from a year ago, reaching $887 million and matching the heaviest online spending day on record (December 9, 2008).

Gotta spend money to make money
What’s the cause for this sort of impressive increase in spending? First is the aggressive marketing that online advertisers have begun to master, which entices consumers to open their wallets. Offering the right incentives, such as low prices, free shipping, coupons, discounts and other promotions, can go a long way toward turning a shopper’s head. Smart shoppers know they can find great deals online, and smart advertisers know that the shoppers are looking for them.

Additionally, online shopping offers an enticement that traditional shopping is sorely lacking: comfort. Shopping from home is quicker, easier and requires less hassle, stress and even gas. The rise in Cyber Monday sales indicates that not only are consumers getting more mentally comfortable about buying online, but thanks to the ease involved, they’re getting more physically comfortable, as well.

What’s more, online shopping allows consumers to shop during times when stepping out to the store might be impossible. For example, comScore reports that this year, more than half of the dollars spent online at U.S. web sites originated from work computers (52.7%), representing a gain of 2.3% from last year. That number illustrates the fact that even when they’re stuck at the office, consumers can and will still shop.

The holiday shopping season has just begun, but as the numbers indicate, we’re off to a great start. And if we can keep this momentum as we head into December, the holidays in 2009 may really be something to celebrate.

Posted by: Noah Belson, Content Quality Analyst at Black Friday Anything But Bleak

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