Holiday Recap: Spending Declined in Recession and Short Shopping Season

Perhaps not surprisingly, traffic to retail sites and consumer spending on those sites were both down during the holiday season, according to ComScore.

The research firm estimates total U.S. e-commerce spending declined 3 percent, the first ever drop reported by ComScore since it began tracking online retail spending in 2001. Total spending was estimated at $25.5 billion, compared to $26.3 billion in 2007.

“The combination of having five fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas and the severe economic headwinds faced by consumers has mad this a really tough season for retailers, both offline and online,” said a statement from ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni.

Some online retailers appeared to benefit from the bad economy — at least in terms of traffic. Consumers hunting for deals online helped drive a 5 percent lift in visits to sites like Amazon (7 percent) and Wal-Mart (4 percent). Apple (19 percent) also saw an increase. The list of traffic losers included eBay (-4 percent); Target (-1 percent); and JC Penney (-11 percent). Best Buy’s e-commerce site had no measurable change in traffic from the corresponding period in 2007.

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