Online holiday spending up 12%, will eclipse last year

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Online consumer holiday spending increased 12% this year compared with last year to $28.4 billion, according to digital business analytics firm comScore. It will hit $35 billion at its current pace, easily topping last year's total of $29.1 billion.

This figure includes a record-breaking final holiday shopping week (ending December 19), when consumers spent $5.5 billion. Online consumer spending jumped 14% in that week, compared with last year.

“Online retail spending has increased due to the improving economic environment and a long-term shift in consumer behavior toward the online channel,” said Andrew Lipsman, senior director of industry analysis at comScore, through e-mail. “Consumers appreciate the convenience, the ability to find the best prices and the ability to take advantage of discounts when online shopping.”

The final weekend of the holiday shopping season, December 17 and 18, also saw a dramatic year-over-year increase. Consumers spent about $900 million online during that two-day period, an increase of 17% compared with the corresponding weekend of last year.

“I think the especially high growth rates on Thanksgiving and ‘free shipping day' can be attributed to heavy promotional efforts around those days that we have not seen in years past,” Lipsman said.

Thanksgiving day also saw a 28% year-over-year increase in online spending to $407 million. Consumers also spent 61% more on “free shipping day,” December 17, than they did in 2009.

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