What Do Online Sales Look Like This Year?

Black Friday saw more shoppers out, but each consumer spent less per person than they did last year.

Cyber Monday — a nonsense term coined by the spin doctors over at the National Retail Federation in 2005 — was quite similar. No, it isn’t the largest online shopping day of the year, it merely is the first non weekend day following Black Friday.

The broad build out of retailers on the internet is still in its first decade; Amazon.com and others were selling goods mid-1990s, but the full embrace started about 10 years ago. Separating what is normal growth from what is economically sensitive changes is difficult to ascertain. In the early part of this decade, high double digit sales gains were common.

In terms of traffic and sales, the online retail world this year looks similar to the mall traffic — more shoppers spending less money:

“The total number of online shoppers increased 6% on Nov. 30 from a year earlier, even as the amount that each shopper spent declined 2% to $102.19. “Consumers are still obviously cash-strapped,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni, yet “every year there are more people that take to e-commerce.”

Some outfits prjected mcug stronger sales, based upon questionable methodlogies. I sure as hell don’t buy this data from Coremetrics:

“Cyber Monday 2009’s online sales rose 14% this year from Cyber Monday 2008. Coremetrics uses a different methodology from comScore’s, tracking actions on sites for about 500 brands.”

The surge in online shopping hasn’t lifted all sites equally. Experian PLC’s Hitwise says that traffic to the top 500 retail Web sites was down 9% Nov. 30 compared with last year’s Cyber Monday, as shoppers shifted their browsing to larger retailers. Traffic at the most visited site, Amazon.com Inc., increased 44%, and visits to Staples.com increased 61%.

Apple saw a huge surge (71% ?!?), Amazon was the top site, Best Buy, Wal-Mart also saw big gains, but on enormous loss-leading price cuts. The price war between Amazon and Wal-Mart also drew shoppers to those sites.

Want a surefire way to misrepresent what total online sales looked like? Only measure the 500 biggest name brands.

Congratulations to Coremetrics for a methodology that manages to create a highly misleading picture of the overall economy!

Online Retail Sales (NSA)

click for bigger chart
Online sales NSA gif


‘Cyber Monday’ Sales Appear Strong

See also:
E-commerce sales grew 5% on Cyber Monday

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