ComScore: E-Commerce Sales Soared 19 Percent This Season

The industry seems to be of two minds whether this holiday season was a boom or a bust, giving further evidence that stats can be interpreted almost any way the analyst wants to.

ComScore on Sunday gave its latest snapshot of E-Commerce sales this holiday season and reported a 19 percent boost compared with the identical period last year. Looking at Nov. 1-Dec. 27, it found nearly $28 billion spent.

Even post-Christmas numbers looked good, ComScore said. "For example, the day after Christmas saw online sales of $545 million, more than double the sales on the same day last year," said comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni. "This would appear to indicate that consumers were willing, and able, to take advantage of the attractive late-season promotions and price discounts offered by retailers this year."

Slicing and dicing the figures can change the context further. The $27.96 billion in sales was what ComScore reported for the full season, but Thanksgiving Day '07 compared with Thanksgiving Day '06 showed a 29 percent increase.

That might be influenced by the growth in residential broadband. In years past, the so-called Black Friday spike happened on Friday morning, as people reported back to work and used corporate broadband connections to start shopping. Now, more consumers can start in right after the pumpkin pie while still at home (or even hitting their Treo or iPhone while pretending to listen to a random in-law).

The sharpest rise in the ComScore numbers came in the one-day Dec. 10 to Dec. 10 comparison, which showed an impressive 33 percent increase.

Fulgoni said these numbers are especially favorable when various external factors--ranging from global warming temperatures to a weak housing market and rising gas prices--are thrown into the eggnog mix.

"Warm weather during the early part of November took its toll on online retail sales, and played a role in holding down the growth in spending over the entire holiday season to a 19-percent rate, which is below last year's level of 26 percent," Fulgoni said. "However, if we look at the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we see online spending growing at a healthier 21-percent rate, which I think is encouraging given the economic challenges facing consumers this year as a result of higher gas prices, lower home values and a jittery stock market."