FINANCE

comScore: Online sales from Thanksgiving through Cyber Week up 24%

BY Marianne Wilson

Reston, Va. — For the holiday season-to-date, $31.5 billion has been spent online, marking a 9% increase versus the corresponding days last year, according to comScore. However, as noted in previous releases, Thanksgiving Day was six days later this year than last and causes more heavy spending days to fall in the year ago period, thereby diluting growth rates at this point.

Green Monday (Dec. 9) saw $1.4 billion in desktop online spending, up 10% versus year ago, representing the third heaviest online spending day of the holiday season-to-date.

Cyber Week, the week beginning with Cyber Monday, posted strong growth online, raking in approximately $8 billion in spending for an increase of 24% compared to the same week last year. The Saturday and Sunday following Cyber Monday saw $1.7 billion in spending via desktop computers, up a robust 71% versus last year. Also noteworthy is that Cyber Week fell just $16 million shy on Dec. 6 of boasting five billion dollar days during the work week. For the period from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Week, online buying from desktop computers increased a very strong 24%.

“Online buying for the period since Thanksgiving has been very strong and indicates that e-commerce is on track to meet expectations,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.

Fulgoni said it appears that the abbreviated calendar between Thanksgiving and Christmas is compelling shoppers to complete more of their online buying during the weekends – with this most recent weekend boasting a big 71% gain from last year, following on the heels of last weekend’s 34% jump.

“The weekend is typically a lighter period of online buying than during workdays, but the weekend surges we’re seeing may be attributable to the effects of showrooming, with the in-store shopping experience increasingly getting disrupted by comparison shopping on mobile phones, leading to more conversions online after leaving the store,” Fulgoni said. “Of course, it’s also likely that many consumers realize the holiday spending clock is ticking and are urgently buying their gifts whenever they have time. And that, in turn, works to the benefit of e-commerce.”

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ShopperTrak: Retail sales and traffic fell last week

BY Marianne Wilson

Chicago — Consumers spent a majority of last week recovering from “Black Weekend” holiday shopping. ShopperTrak – the world’s largest provider of retail shopper analytics – reported that for the week of Dec. 2 to Dec. 8, brick-and-mortar sales of general merchandise, apparel, furniture and other products (GAFO) fell 2.9% compared to the same time last year. Last week’s retail shopper traffic decreased 21.6% compared to the same time period in 2012.

Shopping activity for the week ending Dec. 8 returned to expected seasonal levels following the previous week, which contained a surge of in-store activity across Thanksgiving Day and Black Weekend. “Cyber Monday” (Dec. 2) started the week with a focus on online shopping, causing many retailers to offer in-store promotions intended to entice customers to complete their holiday shopping early in December in their stores.

“Shoppers usually take a brief break in the week after Black Weekend,” said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. “Lighter crowds and many in-store deals, however, helped Saturday, Dec. 7 see a 1.4% sales increase compared to the same day in 2012.”

Despite the encouraging uptick in sales on Saturday, calendar changes in 2013 contributed to the past week’s overall declines in retail sales and traffic. Hanukkah began on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28) – 11 days earlier than last year. So, consumers completed their pre-Hanukkah shopping in November rather than early December, as they did in 2012.

“The movement of Hanukkah into November caused some inevitable declines in sales and traffic in the first week of December,” said Martin. “However, with the shortened Christmas shopping season now in full swing, shoppers can’t procrastinate like they did last year. As we approach the holiday, we expect that shopper activity will increase each week.”

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Capital Business Credit: Holiday season will experience moderate growth

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Despite a number of economic factors that have shaken consumer confidence lately, including the government shutdown and continued high unemployment rates, retailers and manufacturers believe holiday sales will rise slightly compared to last year, according to Capital Business Credit, a non-bank lender that services the retail sector.

According to the quarterly Global Retail Manufacturers and Importers Survey, 77% of importers of retail goods believe that the winter/holiday season will be the same or slightly stronger than last year, up 3% from their predictions in 2012.

Of those who believe that it will be stronger, majority third of respondents estimate that sales will increase by approximately 3% when compared to last year. Nearly half of respondents (48.9%) cited that their retail customers ordered more this holiday season than last year.

Only 26% of manufactures indicated that they were negatively affected by the government shutdown, citing that some orders were put on hold. While only a minority was impacted by the shutdown, 50% still worry that the shutdown may affect holiday retail sales as it shook consumer confidence.

“An uptick in orders does not necessarily mean that we are in for a robust holiday season, as consumers remain reticent to open their wallets due to macro-economic factors,” said Andrew Tananbaum, executive chairman, CBC. “While the season may not be gangbusters, it won’t be negative either. In our opinion, holiday sales will moderately increase year-over-year.”

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