Americans spent a total of nearly $6 billion in online purchases during ‘Cyber Week’ 2011, according to a report from market research firm comScore. This includes three days — Nov. 28 (a.k.a. ‘Cyber Monday’), Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 — that saw more than $1 billion in sales each. These numbers make this year’s Cyber Week the most spending-heavy period for e-commerce ever.
By comScore’s count, Cyber Monday sales reached $1.25 billion. Tuesday saw sales of $1.12 billion, and Wednesday sales reached $1.03 billion.
For the 32 days from Nov. 1 through December 2, online spending was up 15 percent from the previous year, to reach a whopping $18.7 billion spent this holiday season. But it remains unclear whether spending will remain strong, as retailers begin to revert back to regular pricing.
“Cyber Monday kicked the week off with a bang as consumers opened their wallets to the tune of $1.25 billion, but it was only the beginning of a very strong week of online holiday spending,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni in a statement. “Tuesday and Wednesday followed with billion dollar spending days, helping Cyber Week reach a record weekly total of nearly $6 billion in spending. As the deals from this week expire, it will be important to see the degree to which consumers return to the same retailers to continue their holiday shopping, thereby helping improve retailers’ profit margins, or if we experience a pullback in consumer spending – which has occurred in previous years – before promotional offers and spending intensity pick back up in earnest around mid-December.”
In addition to price cuts, 63 percent of retailers also offered the incentive of free shipping, compared to 52 percent of online stores that did so last year. This has become an increasingly important factor for online buyers, says Fulgoni.
“Free shipping is one of the most important incentives that online retailers must provide during the holiday season to ensure that shoppers will convert into buyers,” said Fulgoni. “Consumers have come to expect free shipping during the holiday promotion periods, and retailers, in turn, have realized that they must offer this incentive if they want to maximize their share of consumer spending – especially at the outset of the shopping season. In fact, more than three-quarters of consumers say that free shipping is important to them when making an online purchase, and nearly half say they will abandon their shopping cart at checkout if they find free shipping is not being offered.”
Last year, Cyber Monday sales broke the $1 billion threshold for the first time since the marketing term was created in 2005, making it more lucrative than Black Friday, the best brick-and-mortar shopping day of the year, which follows Thanksgiving. This year, Black Friday sales topped $816 million, a 26 percent jump from 2010.