Online retailers see surge on 'Cyber Monday'

By: AP
By: AP

Like their counterparts at the malls, online merchants finally got some relief with the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, spurred by a bevy of deals and free shipping offers, but the stronger-than-expected bump in online sales Monday couldn't cancel out a lackluster November.

Internet research company ComScore Inc. said Wednesday that online sales spiked fifteen percent to $846 million on "Cyber Monday," which was named by the National Retail Federation in 2005 to describe the surge in online spending when customers returned to work after Thanksgiving and shopped from their desks.

Meanwhile, Nielsen Online, a service of the Nielsen Co., reported a 10 percent increase in Web traffic to online shopping sites on "Cyber Monday," fueled by beauty items, toys and video games. Ken Cassar, vice president of industry insights for Nielsen Online, said in a statement that he expects Monday, Dec. 15 to be the peak day for online shopping traffic.

According to ComScore, the four-day period from Friday through Monday saw e-commerce spending jump 13 percent as both weekend days and Monday all posted double-digit gains.

From Nov. 1 through Dec. 1, however, online spending fell 2 percent. Still, ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni described the big boost as "extremely encouraging." ComScore forecasts that online spending for the holidays will be unchanged from last year, when sales rose 19 percent from 2006.

"This is an extremely encouraging development for retailers, and we can but hope that their aggressive discounting has still left room for profits," Fulgoni said in a statement.

Gene Munster, senior research analyst at PiperJaffray, wrote in a report released Wednesday that the robust traffic reported by Nielsen was a "positive" for online retailer Amazon.com as he sees a close correlation between that data and Amazon.com.

Still, he added that while "Cyber Monday appears to have been a positive for (Amazon)," it doesn't change his belief that "the consumer will be weak in the December quarter."


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