E-commerce sales reach $102.1 billion in 2006: comScore

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A new study from market research comScore Networks claims online retail spending in 2006 reached $102.1 billion, marking a 24 percent increase over 2005's $82.3 billion.

The study found that of these sales, holiday e-commerce accounted for $24.6 billion, up 26 percent from $19.6 billion for the 2005 holidays. Twelve days during the November-December holiday season passed the $600 million mark, in comparison with only six days in 2005 reaching the $500 million mark.

"What was different this year was the acceleration of late in the season sales," said Gian Fulgoni, chairman of comScore Networks, Reston, VA. "Consumers are comfortable with retailers to get the packages to the mail, which is a positive sign that the channel has really matured."

Wednesday, Dec.13, marked the heaviest online spending day of 2006, with $667 million spent, followed by Monday, Dec. 11, which clocked $661 million. Monday, Dec. 4, came in third with $648 million in sales. Cyber Monday, Nov. 27, was the 12th heaviest online spending day.

ComScore said spending growth during the first three weeks of November rose 23 percent above 2005 levels. The week before Thanksgiving saw a 30 percent growth versus the corresponding week in 2005.

Thanksgiving week and the two subsequent weeks saw the greatest share of holiday e-commerce spending, consistent with the 26 percent growth demonstrated during the course of the season as a whole.

The final three weeks of the holiday season saw a major surge in spending as the procrastinators came out in full force, driving a 31 percent increase over the same weeks in 2005. The week leading up to Christmas saw the biggest surge, with a 45 percent increase versus the corresponding week in the prior year.

So what about reports of soft sales this holiday season?

According to Mr. Fulgoni, these soft retail sales figures are for in-store only and don't take into account the shift to e-commerce spending.

"Online sales now represent 7 percent of consumer spending, and not including the 26 percent increase that these sales saw over the last year in your holiday figures does not include the whole picture," he said. "The Internet as a whole is so substantial that you have to include it in any computation."

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