Holiday online shopping finally back to 2007 levels

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The most positive thing ComScore could say about today’s new round of holiday online sales figures: At least they’re not worse than last year’s.

After a dismal start to the holiday shopping season, Web surfers have picked up their spending since Thanksgiving, ComScore reported this afternoon. The research firm said that from Dec. 1, the day known as Cyber Monday, through Friday, online spending reached $3.74 billion, a 9% gain over the same period last year.


The relatively strong week helped push this holiday season’s e-commerce sales, which had declined for the first time ever, back to the same level as last year. From Nov. 1 through Dec. 5, online shoppers spent $14.92 billion, which was essentially flat compared with the year-ago $14.90 billion.

Of course, no growth is a huge change for e-tailers. We’re talking about a sector that’s ...

... only a decade and a half old and used to double-digit sales gains each year. But given the current state of the economy (President-elect Barack Obama says it’s going to get worse before it gets better), we’re betting that Web stores would be happy to pull out any gains they can get this year -- and they’re offering big discounts and special deals, such as free shipping, to try to pull it off. ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said in the press release:

‘With the compressed time period between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year –- five days shorter than last year -– we need to see continued strong growth during the critical weeks between today and Christmas if this year’s shopping season is to at least match that of last year.’

Since you’re reading the Technology blog, we’d be remiss in not pointing out that one of the bright spots is consumer electronics. ComScore said sales of such products last week rose 24%, trailing only sports and fitness products, which enjoyed 35% growth. But so much for the idea that entertainment spending is recession-proof: Sales of video games, consoles and accessories rose only 9%, and sales of music, movies and videos plunged 24%.

-- Chris Gaither