Report: iPad helps to drive holiday computer sales up 25 percent

Computer hardware has accounted for $27.46 billion in online shopping sales during the first 47 days of the 2010 holiday shopping season, according to a new report released by comScore. The report specifically mentions the iPad as a driving force behind this year’s 25 percent increase in online computer hardware sales compared to the same period in 2009.

“Computer Hardware ranks as the top growing category for the holiday season to date with a 25-percent increase versus last year,” the report said. “Purchases of handheld devices (such as Apple iPads and e-readers) and laptop computers drove much of the growth.”

The report cites “attractive pricing on flat panel TVs” as a driving force behind gains in consumer electronics sales, which rose 22 percent from last year’s numbers. Non-digital books and magazines held their own, showing a 21 percent jump in sales. Computer software (16 percent) and toys (15 percent) rounded out 2010’s top five holiday gainers.

ComScore’s report indicates that “Free Shipping Day,” observed by 1,500 online retailers on December 17, was a significant contributor to sales this year, accounting for $942 million in purchases and a 61 percent increase from 2009. That figure rivals Cyber Monday’s $1.028 billion online sales tally and speaks to the continued allure of last minute shopping among consumers.

The whole week beginning with so-called “Green Monday” and ending with “Free Shipping Day” saw sales reach $5.15 billion — a 14 percent increase from the last year’s corresponding week.

We don’t know yet just how much the iPad contributed to this year’s rise in popularity of computing devices. But keeping in line with initial reports, we expect Apple to be touting the iPad’s success among holiday shoppers when the company announces its quarterly earnings in January.

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