Travel Joins the Holiday Shopping Spree

Online shoppers outspent their post-Thanksgiving e-commerce purchase in the week ending Dec. 2 with $1.5 billion in total sales, according to comScore Networks.

ComScore also reported online sales results for the full month of November which, at a total of $4.8 billion, grew 13 percent from the previous month.

The week ending Dec. 2 did bring the struggling online Travel sector the best news since Sept. 11, as the category posted $418 million in consumer sales, 2 percent above an average weekly benchmark calculated over the five months preceding September. The last time online Travel crossed this threshold was the week ending Sept. 9. Hard Goods, representing most gift-giving activity, generated nearly $1.1 billion alone, a level 83 percent above the average week.

“As anticipated, the week was extremely strong and set the new high for the year,” said comScore vice president Dan Hess. “The fact that Travel crossed benchmark levels is particularly significant, since those benchmarks were established over several months in which the category enjoyed extraordinary sales growth.”

Gift-oriented categories turned in impressive sales increases. Toys were the overall growth leader, with sales of more than $40 million, nearly six times the average week’s level. Video Games and Consumer Electronics saw their sales increase nearly 400 percent and more than 100 percent, respectively. Apparel, one of the larger online categories, sold more than double the benchmark level at $185 million. The online Book category, which has had varied results over the past several weeks, recorded sales that were 50 percent above average.

ComScore’s analysis also revealed a pronounced change in consumers’ daily buying patterns. In the typical week, online buying picks up markedly at the beginning of a workweek, grows over consecutive days to a Wednesday peak, and declines gradually through the weekend. By contrast, sales the week ending Dec. 2 remained strong through Friday, particularly in Hard Goods wherein most gift buying takes place.

“Typically, we observe at least half of online buying needs met in the early part of the week,” Hess said. “But last week the sustained volume of consumer demand was so great that it actually changed the shape of the daily curve we usually see.”

Site Performance and Fulfillment

According to Keynote, which is tracking e-tailers’ site availability, transaction and fulfillment times, the performance and availability of sites has been high, with no significant overall change during the week from Nov. 25 to Dec. 1 from the prior week (the week of Thanksgiving). Gap,, Victoria’s Secret, and FedEx lead the list of 50 sites during the week ending Dec. 2 with performance averages all under 1.0 second for customers accessing these sites. Saks Fifth Avenue, Urban Outfitters and eGreetings were the slowest sites for the week, with performance averages ranging from 4.28 to 6.19 seconds.

Keynote’s measurement of transaction performance, which measures the time it takes for an online customer to move through the number of pages required by the site to complete a transaction was somewhat slower for the week ending Dec. 1 for almost all the sites measured than it was Thanksgiving week. The overall Delivery Performance average for all retailers is 46.89 percent, based on orders received in an average 6.2 days, down slightly from the 55 percent average through Thanksgiving week. The percentage indicates the amount of time by which the retailers met or exceeded their own delivery guarantees. All of the 16 retailers for which Keynote tracked delivery vs. expectation exceeded or met delivery expectations.

Traffic Up Slightly as Holidays Draw Closer

The Jupiter Media Metrix Online Shopping Index, which tracks home and work Internet users and nearly 500 shopping sites, was up 3 percent for the week ending Dec. 2 compared to the previous week. The Index was up 45 percent compared to the same week last year.

Jupiter’s research also found that traffic to shopping bots was up this year, perhaps because shoppers are more aggressively looking for deals this year. Bots were visited by 1.5 million average daily visitors the week ending Dec. 2, up 19 percent from the previous week.

Top Shopping Sites, Week Ending 12/02/01
Rank Site Avg. Daily
Unique Visitors
Week Ending

1. 4,714
2. 2,872
3. 1,899
4. 786
5. Columbia House Sites 740
6. 716
7. 702
8. 677
9. ToysRUs 673
10. 635
11. 465
12. 456
13. 430
14. 424
15. 421
16. 401
17. 395
18. 372
19. 356
20. 354
21. 352
22. 343
23. 338
24. 331
25. 307
Source: Jupiter Media Metrix

  • Compare to the top shopping sites from the previous week.

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