The e-commerce industry posted its first $900 million day, ever. Online research firm comScore reports that on December 15, e-commerce sales hit $913 million. The surge held put holiday online sales up 4% to almost $24.8 million through the week ending December 18. So far this year, the spending on nine days has risen above $800 million.
E-commerce will almost certainly have an outstanding year, which was not expected several weeks ago. Analysts believed that a weak holiday spending season would bring down online sales and store sales as the consumer continued to be unusually frugal due to tight credit and concerns about unemployment.
Data so far show that while e-commerce revenue is rising, sales in physical stores my be down 2% for the holiday. Online sales are still not big enough to make up for that drop.
E-commerce sales could actually accelerate the last week before Christmas. A huge storm in the mid-South and Northeast kept large numbers of people out of stores. The alternatives for those shoppers was to skip buying gifts completely or to use their PCs to make purchases.
The weather and the trend toward shopping online could push e-commerce sales up more than 5% this year. That would not get them back to the double-digit growth rates of four years ago, but it would be a step in the right direction.
Douglas A. McIntyre