Retail e-commerce spending rose 15% year-over-year in the third quarter to $41.9 billion according to the latest data from comScore Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR). Sequentially, however, online retail spending was down 2.8% from the second quarter total of $43.15 billion. The highest total quarterly spending reached $49.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.
The third quarter 2012 total marks the 12th straight quarter of year-over-year increases in online spending. The third quarter of 2009 was the last quarter to post a year-over-year decrease.
comScore’s chairman noted:
The Q3 growth rate of 15 percent growth remained in line with the prior quarter and provided confirmation of the strength in the e-commerce sector, despite a few negative headwinds in the macroeconomic environment during the quarter. Such performance offers some optimism as we approach the holiday season, especially given recent improvements in consumer sentiment. With the housing market beginning to show signs of recovery in addition to increasing – if still underwhelming – job growth, there appears to be strong enough footing to support a very healthy online holiday shopping season.
The ecommerce totals have declined sequentially in each of the past four quarters, from the high in the fourth quarter of 2011. But that appears to be the pattern of spending over the last three years, as the holiday quarter puts up a big number and sales slowly leak away until the next holiday season.
Among the top performing retail categories, according to comScore, were digital content & subscriptions, consumer electronics, event tickets, apparel and accessories, and computer software. Each grew by at least 16% year-over-year.