comScore Says Online Holiday Shopping Survived The Fiscal Cliff

As an anxious nation awaited a resolution to the Fiscal Cliff debacle unfolding in Washington, the anxiety wasn’t such that online shopping was impaired in the final weeks of 2012.

In fact, online retailers did pretty well for themselves. On Thursday, comScore reported its final 2012 holiday season retail e-commerce spending totals. And the numbers are solid.

$42.3 billion was spent online during the entire November-December holiday shopping season, comScore says, marking a 14-percent increase from 2011.

The latter portion of the season saw several days with particularly strong growth, including Free Shipping Day on Monday, Dec. 17 (up 76 percent to $1.013 billion) and Christmas Day (up 36 percent to 288 million), but they could not make up for the spending growth shortfall earlier in the month.

If consumers weren’t shopping online and via mobile devices in 2012, they certainly will be in 2013. With tens of millions of new Android and iOS-powered smartphones and tablets now activated (devices that are magnets for online/mobile shopping) eCommerce is about to pick up.

“The 2012 online holiday season was once again a very strong season with growth rates in the mid-teens as we reached record-setting spending levels,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “This year’s growth rate is essentially on a par with last year’s. But despite many positives for the online sector, this year’s season did not quite perform up to our initial expectation for growth rates in excess of 16 percent as we fell a billion dollars short of our expected total of $43.4 billion.”

“While November started out at a very healthy 16-percent growth rate through the promotional period of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consumers almost immediately pulled back on spending, apparently due to concerns over the looming fiscal cliff and what that might mean for their household budgets in 2013,” Fulgoni adds. “With Congress deadlocked throughout December, growth rates softened even further and never quite made up enough ground to reach our original expectation.”