Santa’s Billion-Dollar Online Baby

E-tailers cheered by early strength in online holiday sales were not disappointed by the Christmas rush.

As of December 25, U.S. online sales reached a record $35.3 billion for the season-to-date, according to comScore. That’s a 15 percent increase over the same period last year, with $2.8 billion spent in the week ending December 25, up 16 percent year-over-year.

Mobile continued its strong contribution to the bottom line. For example, on December 26, IBM Benchmark found that 16.4 percent of all retail site online sessions were initiated from a mobile device, up from 7.8 percent on that day in 2010. Sales from mobile devices grew to 11.3 percent, versus 4.3 percent on the same day in 2010.

The iPad led all mobile device traffic at 7 percent, followed by the iPhone at 6.4 percent and Android at 5 percent.

Increased tablet traffic could account for the dramatic increase in Christmas Day purchases of digital content and subscriptions. ComScore found that on an average day during this 2011 holiday season, from November 1 through December 26, digital content, including downloads of music, movies, TV, ebooks and apps, accounted for 2.8 percent of retail e-commerce sales. On Christmas Day, they made up more than 20 percent of sales. Look for digital content sales to remain high this week, comScore says.

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