Here's a little statistical cheer for online retailers bracing themselves for what many have been predicting will be a dismal holiday sales season.
The latest online retail spending report released Tuesday by ComScore shows that consumers last weekend spent almost double what they spent on the corresponding weekend before Christmas last year. U.S. consumers online spent $677 million last weekend, December 20 and 21, compared to $341 million the weekend before Christmas in 2007, which was December 22 and 23.
It should be noted, however, that there are five fewer days this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, making it harder to make perfect year-to-year comparisons. For example, the $677 million in sales last weekend--which was also the fourth weekend after Thanksgiving--is actually down 17 percent from last year's corresponding fourth weekend after Thanksgiving, December 15 and 16.
Whether you see the glass half full or half empty, the statistics suggest "that many consumers opted for the cozier confines of online shopping rather than having to brave the severe cold and snowstorms affecting much of the northern half of the country," ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said in a statement. He added that the compressed shopping season probably resulted in some consumers buying online later than they did last year.
Regardless, the report is further evidence that holiday sales aren't a total disaster and might even be holding their own, which is no small feat in the throes of a recession. U.S. online spending to date this holiday season (from November 1 to December 21) totals $24.71 billion, down 1 percent from the corresponding timeframe last year.