comScore: 2013 Online Holiday Shopping Gains 10% But Misses Expectations

comScore, which measures ecommerce performance, has reported that U.S. retail e-commerce spending from desktop computers for the first 52 days of the November-December 2013 holiday season increased 10% this year over last year, showing $42.8 billion spent online from desktop devices. According to the company, the increase was lighter than expected as online shopping in the last week of December fell short of expectations. 

“Our expectations for the online holiday shopping season anticipated that consumers would spend heavily later into the season out of necessity to make up for the highly compressed holiday shopping calendar this year,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “Unfortunately that was not in the cards, as the final online shopping week saw considerably softer sales than anticipated, including zero billion dollar spending days— although Monday and Tuesday came close.”

Added Fulgoni, “Strong momentum coming out of Thanksgiving, in addition to heavy weekend buying, suggested we would meet or exceed expectations as long as momentum continued through the final week before Christmas.

Unfortunately, the most recent week fell short of those expectations, and it looks like the final season growth rate will end up a few percentage points shy of what we had anticipated. In the end, I think we’ll look back at this online holiday season as one where absolute dollar sales gains in consumer spending were held back by heavy retailer price discounting that occurred in an attempt to stimulate consumer demand, while at the same time, consumers weren’t willing or able to increase their spending rate to fully compensate for the six-day shorter shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

For the holiday season-to-date, Home & Garden categories ranked in the top five categories for sales growth, according to comScore. Other categories in the top five, included Video Game Consoles & Accessories, Apparel & Accessories, Consumer Electronics (bolstered by smartphone sales), and Computer Hardware (bolstered by tablet sales).

The top 10 biggest sales days for 2013, according to comScore were Cyber Monday (Dec. 2) with a record $1.735 billion in desktop spending, followed by Tuesday, Dec. 3 with $1.410 billion and Green Monday (Dec. 9) with $1.401 billion. The 2013 holiday season saw 10 days with more than $1 billion spending, down from last year’s total of 12 individual days, reflecting the compressed calendar between Thanksgiving and Christmas.