Online purchasing during the 2012 holiday season totaled $42.3 billion, up 14% from $37.2 billion in 2011, according to research firm comScore Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR). That is a very nice gain, but about $1.2 billion short of comScore’s initial estimate for a total of $43.4 billion in online spending.
comScore’s chairman acknowledged the miss:
While November started out at a very healthy 16-percent growth rate through the promotional period of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consumers almost immediately pulled back on spending, apparently due to concerns over the looming fiscal cliff and what that might mean for their household budgets in 2013. With Congress deadlocked throughout December, growth rates softened even further and never quite made up enough ground to reach our original expectation.
Spending in the first three weeks of December grew much more slowly than it had grown in the four weeks of November, when sales gained 16%, 15%, 17% and 17% year-over-year in each respective week. Only the week ending December 23, which saw a sales gain of 53%, beat any of those numbers. And sales rose by just 1% in the final week of the year.
The highest spending occurred on Cyber Monday (Nov. 26), with a total of $1.465 billion spent. Black Friday (Nov. 23) did not make the top 10 online sales days.
While the online sales story did not conclude with a bang, growth of 14% is more than three times better than sales growth at bricks-and-mortar stores during the 2012 holiday season.