Sunday, December 2, 2007

ComScore Says Online Sales Rose 18% Last Week on Electronics

By Mary Jane Credeur

Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Online sales last week rose 18 percent as consumers hunted for bargains on electronics, toys and computers.

Internet retail purchases jumped to $4.06 billion in the week ended Nov. 30, led by Yahoo! Inc. and Web sites for Target Corp., Apple Inc., Circuit City Stores Inc. and Toy ``R'' Us Inc., Reston, Virginia-based ComScore Inc. said today in a statement. Online sales of video games and consoles jumped 170 percent, toy sales gained 36 percent and computer hardware rose 21 percent, ComScore said.

Online spending, which makes up more than 3 percent of all retail sales, may climb 20 percent to $29.5 billion in November and December, ComScore has estimated. That trails the 26 percent growth in online sales during the holidays in 2006 as consumers seek less-expensive items this year. Online spending rose 18 percent in November to $13.4 billion, ComScore said.

``It shows that online sales growth continues to be very strong,'' Jay McIntosh, the Chicago-based director of Ernst & Young LLP's retail and consumer products practice, said in a phone interview. ``The difference between 18 percent and 20 percent is not significant.''

Comparison Shopping

Shoppers spent a record $733 million online on the Monday after Thanksgiving, a 21 percent increase from a year earlier, according to ComScore. The National Retail Federation dubbed that day ``Cyber Monday'' because of a pattern of increased Web purchases after the U.S. holiday weekend.

Consumers are purchasing on the Web to reduce spending on high-priced gasoline and because sites have become easier to navigate and allow simpler comparison shopping, McInctosh said. The traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, which all have their own Web sites, are going to be the primary beneficiaries of this sales growth, he said.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's biggest retailer, reported online sales jumped more than 60 percent on the day after Thanksgiving compared with a year earlier after it tripled the number of discounted items to 150. Shoppers snapped up items including a microsuede reclining massage chair for under $100 and Canon digital cameras for $200.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based discounter's strategy this holiday season is to lower prices on more items earlier in the shopping cycle to woo consumers coping with higher mortgage, energy and food costs.

``We go to market every day looking at the lowest possible price that we can offer,'' Raul Vazquez, head of, said in a Nov. 26 interview.

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