It’s the Online Holiday Season!

by Russ Jones on December 16, 2009

in ECommerce, Ecommerce Payments, Economic Outlook, Research Round Up, Russ Jones

Post image for It’s the Online Holiday Season!

It’s the holidays and the online retail sales are… well… who knows? We’re seeing data points all over the map. comScore is reporting better-than-they-expected 4% growth over the the previous year.

U.S. online holiday spending has grown 4% to nearly $21 billion during the first 43 days of the November-December shopping season, according to comScore Inc. (SCOR). The Internet researcher, which had forecast a 3% increase from a year earlier, attributed the better-than-expected results partly to retailers’ heavy promotions. During the most recent week ended Dec. 13, spending reached a record $4.74 billion. The previous record was $4.7 billion during the week ended Dec. 16, 2007.


But in Chase Paymentech’s eCommerce holiday index, transactions and sales are both up — way up — from a year ago.

Even with the big online retail promotions from Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, e-commerce has continued to grow at a healthy pace vs. last year, and this past week maintained the trends seen in the first days after Thanksgiving. In the second full week of holiday shopping, transactions grew by over 25.3 percent, while sales were up 14.8 percent. Average value per ticket, meanwhile, was still down 5.9 percent, but that decline has narrowed from previous weeks.

Chase Paymentech

Why the big difference? As is always the case, it’s all about context. comScore is judging online sales from the start of November, which is apparently the new definition of the holiday season. Chase Paymentech is more traditional, and only looking at holiday sales post Thanksgiving. Either way, it’s nice to see things going up instead of down.

There are big differences, also, in terms of methodology. comScore’s technique for assessing eCommerce sales is based on a panel survey of two million online consumers that asks what they bought. Maybe comScore blends this with some observed website traffic analysis. I’m not sure. It would be nice to better understand this.

Chase Paymentech, on the other hand, measures actual purchases processed from 50 of the top 250 Internet Retailer merchants. A little more definitive in my opinion. As the largest eCommerce processor in the United States, they have visibility into a significant percentage on online purchase and can base their index on transaction volume and purchase volume. For all I know, they might even include returns! Oh, maybe that index doesn’t start until after the holidays.

On a more serious note, the National Retail Federation anticipated consumer spending was going to be down this year, based on some early consumer surveys done in October. Given the eCommerce numbers being reported now, particularly from Paymentech, we’re wondering if this season might represent a significant inflection point in the shift towards online retail?

2 Responses to “It’s the Online Holiday Season!”

  1. I think the consensus is that while online retail has been healthy and up on 2008 (as you rightly point out, pick you number as to hou much up), in store has been patchy. There’s also been heavy discounting: promotional offers are up by 21% year over year, and lost of sloid evidence which shows the link between promotions and onsitre conversions. In fact customers were deferring purchases in anticipation of seasonal discounts. There are several blogs about this here with additional data on seasonal trends.

  2. Interesting article in today’s New York Times titled “Mobile Phones Become Boon to Holiday Shopping” about how one in five shoppers said they intended to use their cellphones to shop for the holidays.

    So, if we’re past the tipping point for online, perhaps mobile is also one of the drivers?

Leave a Reply

Previous post:

Next post:

Clicky Web Analytics