ComScore, Nielsen Saw Strong E-Commerce Activity on Monday

Hitwise, Nielsen, and ComScore measured significant growth in online shopping activity on Cyber Monday, a day that has come to be seen as a barometer for the entire holiday season. Their reports suggest e-commerce spending in the U.S. leaped 15 percent year over year while traffic to e-retail sites rose between 5 and 10 percent.

ComScore’s finding contradicts an earlier, more pessimistic report by payments processor Chase Paymentech. Paymentech said late Monday that while order volumes climbed significantly on the day, average order sales were considerably down. As a result, it said overall sales volume were flat.

According to Hitwise, U.S visits to 100 online-only retailers were up 5 percent on Cyber Monday, while visits to comparison shopping sites dropped 21 percent and visits to catalog sites fell 4 percent. Amazon.com was the clear winner, drawing 10.8 percent of U.S. visits among the top 500 retail sites measured.

Nielsen meanwhile said traffic to its Holiday eShopping Index increased 10 percent year over year. The largest growth, according to Nielsen, came in the beauty (151 percent) and toys/video games (112 percent) categories. Like Hitwise, Nielsen measured a drop in unique audience on shopping comparison sites (-12 percent) and a big traffic increase for Amazon. Compared with last year, the dominant e-tailer’s unique user count for the day grew 25 percent to 9 million, Nielsen said.

On the spending front, ComScore measured a 15 percent annual rise in Cyber Monday e-commerce expenditures, to $846 million. It said spending over the Thanksgiving weekend was also up considerably compared to 2007. However it also noted spending for the month of November shrank 2 percent, suggesting many consumers held out for deals and discounts.

“With Cyber Monday promotions beginning in earnest over the Thanksgiving weekend, consumers have finally begun to open their wallets, setting off a streak of four consecutive days of extremely strong growth,” ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said in a statement.

Individual retailers begin today to report November sales results, although information about consumer e-commerce activity for December, including Cyber Monday, won’t be released until early 2009.

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