comScore reports the final tally for 2009 US online holiday sales was up 4% over 2008, to $29.1 billion. In mid-November, eMarketer predicted 2009 US online holiday sales would grow a slightly higher 5.4% and total $30.0 billion.
This modest increase represents a vast improvement over the 5.7% decline recorded last year, when consumers and retailers were feeling the full impact of the recession.
More consumers opted to shop online on Black Friday instead of wading through crowded malls, as evidenced by the strong growth in e-commerce sales. Consumers felt more confident in their abilities to find good deals online, and several large, store-based retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target offered aggressive online promotions to capture consumer spending before it dried up, contributing to strong online sales.
Online sales surged on December 15 as last-minute shoppers made their final purchases and retailers’ deadlines for guaranteed free shipping approached. Online sales continued to be strong during the final week before Christmas as a weekend snowstorm hit the Eastern Seaboard and forced many shoppers to finish their holiday purchases online.
This was the year that retailers made their Facebook and Twitter presence a noticeable part of their promotional marketing strategy. And consumers who have honed their online research skills during the recession went online more than ever to compare prices, download coupons and find special gifts. Visits to coupon sites showed strong growth in November.
Shoppers also turned to the mobile channel in the 2009 holiday season. eBay reported that the number of items purchased using its mobile app tripled over the same period in 2008.
Last year’s online holiday sales growth portends that brighter days are ahead. eMarketer predicts that e-commerce sales growth will accelerate in 2010, even though many consumers will continue to feel financial pain.
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Check out today’s other article, “Web is Bright Spot in Europe Travel Market.”