Preliminary Shopping Numbers Reveal “Slow Season” As More Shoppers Move Online

by Jordan Richardson on December 27, 2012

The Christmas season is upon us, with the big day in the books and the exhilarating shopping season carrying on through the mania of Boxing Week and into 2013. As countless consumers flock to stores to take in the real reason for the season in the form of unbelievable discounts, online shopping has once again enjoyed a surge in popularity.

The trouble is that the surge isn’t strong enough.

Early data from the holiday shopping season, numbers that discount Boxing Week fun in Canada, reveal an overall increase of just 0.7 percent from the eight week period between October 28 and Christmas Eve. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal and MasterCard, this represents the slowest growth since 2008’s shopping season.

Retail consulting firm Customer Growth Partners adds that the shopping season looks like one of the worst since 2009. Sales rose only 2.8 percent, a considerable difference in contrast to the 5.8 percent increase enjoyed in 2011.

Online shopping once again saw growth, but not nearly enough (depending on who you ask).

MasterCard’s SpendingPulse data reveals online shopping growth of 8.4 percent, with sales of $48 billion recorded for the shopping season. comScore’s US numbers disclose a 16 percent increase, with its methodology of studying buying patterns differing from SpendingPulse’s raw data.

There are a number of reasons for a potential slowdown in shopping, but things like Free Shipping Day have successfully lured people into online outlets and away from crowded shopping malls and other bustling locales.

eBay’s Holiday Express was also a considerable boon for the season, offering rapid delivery. And its eBay Now app connects customers to brick and mortar retailers with a personal shopping valet delivering the goods right to the doorstep in service areas (currently just San Francisco and New York).

Of course, finding actual numbers on the impact of online holiday shopping will take some time. The preliminaries suggest a slower season than expected, but they also reveal a trend toward staying home and doing the deed on the Internet. The face of the modern holiday shopping is changing with the times, showing no signs of slowing down as the world moves further online.

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