2008 Holiday Consumer Spending Reveals Positive Signs

Online Retail Sales
Online Retail Sales

According to comScore, several online categories outperformed overall consumer spending and often times offline spending, in the same comparison categories.  This is good news for online retailers looking ahead in 2009 and any potential economic rebound from the economy as a whole.  Some online holiday shopping highlights include the following:

  • Apparel & Accessories sales were up 4 percent online, while overall category sales declined by 20%
  • Consumer Electronics declined 5% online, compared to the previous year, while the overall category sales in Electronics/Appliances declined 26%

A couple of online shopping categories saw double-digit growth in spending:  Sports & Fitness (up 18% year-over-yeaer) and Video Games, Consoles & Accessories (up 14%, respectively).  Consumer emphasis on improved health & fitness supported by shoppers becoming more confident with big ticket internet purchases (plus great deals) led to increased sales on products such as treadmills and elliptical machines.  The growth in the video game category can be attributed to popular adoption of the Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 & Playstation 3.  Most notably, sales for the Nintendo Wii seem to have skyrocketed this holiday season — just ask your friends and family members who got a Wii for Christmas?  You’ll probably be surprised!

In total, online shopping declined 3% year over year with some bright spots by category and demographic.  Those households with annual income exceeding $100,000 spent 7% more this holiday season, compared to 2007.

Retailers looking ahead in 2009 should be planning out strategies now for incentivized offers and ways to better engage consumers.  Hopefully the 2008 (relative) stability of online sales will be a trend for the entire 2009 calendar year as consumers search for better deals online, now that most are confident in the transaction experience.

Some ideas for better consumer engagement and competitive advantages include customer testimonials, consumer product reviews, better use of video, strong search engine optimization, useful email/newsletter marketing and of course — excellent offers to the customer.  Free shipping, Promotions, Coupons, Discounts, Surveys, Contest Marketing, etc can all be great ways to entice online consumer spending.

Good Luck to All in 2009!!

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