U.S. online holiday shopping tops $21B

So far this season, online spending is up 12% over 2009

Despite a few recent slow days, holiday shoppers have been digging deep and spending a lot online this season.

Actually, online shoppers in the United States so far have already spent more than $21.95 billion, according to comScore, an online research firm. That's a 12% increase over the same period last year.

"Growth rates during the most recent week settled in at around 11%, which is consistent with our forecasted spending growth rate for the holiday season," comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said in a statement. "With more than $5 billion in spending this past week, it's clear that while deal-seeking shoppers may have driven stronger-than-anticipated spending early in the season, Americans continue to demonstrate a significantly greater willingness to spend online this year than in seasons past."

Fulgoni added that he expects to see some of the heaviest online shopping this week. He's also predicting that shoppers will spend past the billion dollar mark on one day between now and Christmas.

Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, registered as the biggest online holiday spending day in history. ComScore reported at the time that 9 million shoppers spent $1 billion online in a single day, many while using their computers at work.

Later that same week, online spending dropped off dramatically. Then, according to comScore, spending picked up again last week. ComScore said that online spending hit $5.15 billion last week alone, an increase of 11% compared to the same week in 2009.

Throughout this year's holiday shopping season, retailers have gone out of their way to offer major discounts and promotions, like free shipping. While comScore analysts say this has drawn a lot of shoppers online, it's also training shoppers to bypass retail sites that don't offer promotions and discounts, or to wait until they appear.

Fulgoni noted that this week should see heavy spending, because Christmas Day is now less than two weeks away and because retailers will pull out all the stops to offer discounts this week.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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