Report: Online sales up 5 percent during holidays

AP News
Posted: Dec 30, 2009 1:54 PM

Spending at online retailers rebounded this holiday season, growing more quickly than in traditional stores, according to figures from comScore.

The market research firm said Wednesday that e-commerce sales from Nov. 1 to Christmas Eve were up 5 percent over 2008.

That compares with a rise of 3.6 percent in overall retail sales during the same period, according to MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse.

The growth in online sales marks a turnaround from last year, when the deepening recession forced consumers to pull back, leading to a 3 percent drop in spending. But comScore also found indications that consumers are still reluctant to spend freely, noting a decline in the average amount of money spent per buyer.

Snow was one factor driving more shoppers from traditional stores to the Web. The winter storm that hit the East Coast on the weekend of Dec. 19 helped drive online retail sales up 13 percent for the weekend, comScore said.

The firm also gave credit to online retailers' efforts to use social networking tools and free shipping offers.

ComScore's estimates are based on a panel of U.S. shoppers who agree to have their online spending monitored by the company, rather than on actual sales reported by retailers. MasterCard tracks activity in its payment network, coupled with survey results for cash and check spending.