Report: Online holiday sales on track

Summary:Online sales are likely to meet targets for the fourth quarter, according to data compiled by Comscore Networks for the week ending Dec. 23.

Online sales appear on track to hit targets for the fourth quarter, according to data compiled by Comscore Networks for the week ending Dec. 23.

According to Comscore, which tracks e-tailing activity, online shoppers spent $9.6 billion so far excluding travel and auction sales. That tally puts online sales slightly ahead or on track to hit Comscore's forecast of $10 billion to $10.25 billion.

Comscore said it expects the fourth-quarter online sales total to be about $10.5 billion, up 15 percent from a year ago--not bad considering retailing sales overall have been anemic because of the weak economy.

The statistics jibe with anecdotal evidence coming from e-commerce companies. Last week, Yahoo was upbeat about growth on its shopping area, and smaller e-tailers such as Red Envelope also reported strong activity.

Online travel sales are at $4.2 billion for the fourth quarter so far, with Comscore expecting the quarter to be down about 10 percent compared with the third quarter.

For the fourth quarter to Dec. 23, apparel and accessories had the biggest sales jump, up 50 percent compared with the third quarter total. Flowers and gifts, up 135 percent; toys, up 235 percent; consumer electronics and video games, up 35 percent; and home and garden, up 31 percent, were winners compared with the third quarter.

Book sales were up 18 percent, but computer software sales fell 7 percent for the fourth quarter to Dec. 23 compared with the third quarter total.

Among other items in the Comscore report:

  • The highest sales day of the season was Dec. 12, when online shoppers spent $261.3 million, excluding travel and auctions. The highest sales weekend of the season was Dec. 15 and Dec. 16, with $242 million sold online excluding travel and auctions.

  • Compared with the traditional shopping season, online holiday shopping kicked in 3 days later (Nov. 26), and essentially ended 3 days earlier(Dec. 20). Online shoppers also used e-commerce sites three days longer than a year ago, indicating that consumers are more confident about online retailers' ability to fulfill orders.

  • In November, 60 percent of online consumer sales originated from at-work PCs.

  • Visitor traffic to major clicks-and-bricks retailers such as,,, and grew consistently throughout the season, a fact that may mean consumers were doing online research before an offline purchase.
  • Topics: E-Commerce


    Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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