According to market research firm comScore Inc., online consumer spending patterns for the 2008 holiday shopping season exceeded industry projections. The year's transaction volumes kept pace with 2007 and soundly beat spending figures for 2006. The company said Web surfers cut back somewhat with online spending this year. But retailers reported $25.5 billion in holiday sales, down only 3 percent from 2007.
This is the first time online spending during the November and December holiday shopping season has fallen since the reporting firm began tracking e-commerce sales in 2001.
EBay Inc. led Internet retailers in consumer traffic, garnering 85.4 million visitors during the first three weeks of December. And Amazon.com Inc., in its fourteenth year of operation, noted that the 2008 holiday season was the best ever for the company. Amazon sites generated 76.2 million visitors, up 7 percent from the previous year. On Dec. 15, over 6.3 million items were ordered via Amazon.com worldwide, a record-breaking 72.9 purchases per second.
Also, the credit crunch caused a shift to cash-based consumer payments. Javelin Research estimates that in the next five years online credit card purchases will decrease nearly 20 percent. However, the study, entitled Online Retail Payments Forecast, projects that other online payment methods, including retailers' private-label, closed loop cards, as well as prepaid cards, will see 23 percent and 42 percent annual volume increases, respectively.
"While overall total retail sales are down in the 5.5 percent to 8 percent range for November and December, there were quite a few signs of relative strength," said Michael McNamara, Vice President of Research and Analysis for macro-economic reporting firm SpendingPulse. "However, e-commerce sales remain comparatively healthy, and the grocery, merchandise and restaurant sectors helped to keep total declines in the single digit range for all commerce."
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