Reston, Va. -- A total of $46.5 billion was spent online from desktop devices for the full November-December 2013 holiday season, an increase of 10% versus a year ago, according to comScore. While the total represents a record for online holiday spending and a double-digit gain from last year, it nevertheless fell short of comScore's forecasted 14% growth of $48.1 billion in desktop spending.
“With just three weeks of online shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas, consumers did not have the same opportunity to buy that they would have in a more typical holiday season,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.
"Ultimately, it seems that spending softness relative to expectations was mainly the result of the compressed holiday calendar They made up for it to some extent by spending significantly more online on the weekends, but so many fewer workdays provided a headwind for the season that ultimately proved very challenging to overcome. That said, it should also be noted that many consumers continue to be challenged economically, which forced retailers to offer large price discounts in an attempt to stimulate demand. Unfortunately, this also had the effect of reducing total dollar sales since consumers could buy more for less."
For the 2013 holiday season, apparel & accessories ranked as the top-gaining product category with a gain of more than 13% versus a year ago and outpacing consumer electronics (bolstered by smartphone sales) by a razor thin margin. computer hardware (bolstered by tablet sales) ranked third by fractions of a percentage point, while toys & hobbies and video game consoles & accessories rounded out the top five.