U.S. online winter spending grows 14pc to $42.3 billion

$42.3 billion was spent online during the entire November-December holiday shopping season, marking a 14 percent increase from 2011.The latter portion of the season saw several days with particularly strong growth, including Free Shipping Day on Monday, Dec. 17 (up 76 percent to $1.013 billion) and Christmas Day (up 36 percent to 288 million), but they could not make up for the spending growth shortfall earlier in the month.

While the holiday season started off with strong growth rates on the upper end of the mid-teens through the heavy promotional period, a December swoon in consumer confidence gave way to softer than expected buying during the critical shopping weeks in early to mid-December, from which growth rates never fully recovered.

“The 2012 online holiday season was once again a very strong season with growth rates in the mid-teens as we reached record-setting spending levels,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.

“This year’s growth rate is essentially on a par with last year’s. But despite many positives for the online sector, this year’s season did not quite perform up to our initial expectation for growth rates in excess of 16 percent as we fell a billion dollars short of our expected total of $43.4 billion.”

An analysis of weekly online holiday spending totals demonstrates clearly how spending growth softened during the three most important spending weeks of the holiday season.

Following four weeks of growth in the mid-to-high teens, each of the next three weeks failed to surpass a 12 percent growth rate despite their record-setting spending totals (including the first ever $7 billion week for the week ending Dec. 16).

The highly variable growth rates in the final two weeks (extremely high in the penultimate week and extremely low in the final week) are primarily a function of the way the calendar fell in relation to Christmas.

Top 10 Heaviest Online Spending Days in 2012

The top ten heaviest days for online spending in 2012 all occurred during the holiday shopping period.

The season was once again led by Cyber Monday (Nov. 26) with a record $1.465 billion in spending, followed by Tuesday, Dec. 4 with $1.362 billion and Green Monday (Dec. 10) with $1.275 billion.

The 2012 holiday season saw 12 days with more than $1 billion spending, comfortably surpassing last year’s total of 10 individual days.
Top Ten U.S. Online Spending Days of 2012

Rank         Date                                      Spending in Millions ($)
1     Monday, Nov. 26 (Cyber Monday)             $1,465
2     Tuesday, Dec. 4                                        $1,362
3     Monday, Dec. 10 (Green Monday)             $1,275
4     Tuesday, Nov. 27                                      $1,263
5     Tuesday, Dec. 11                                      $1,220
6     Friday, Dec. 14                                          $1,219
7     Thursday, Dec. 13                                     $1,135
8     Monday, Dec. 3                                         $1,117
9     Wednesday, Nov. 28                                 $1,110
10     Wednesday, Dec. 5                                 $1,051

The reserach was carried out by ComScore at: comscore.com/2012_U.S._Online_Holiday_Spending_Grows_14_Percent_vs_Year_Ago_to_42.3_Billion