Online Sales Reach a Record High This Holiday Shopping Season, Says Study

Retailers, rejoice.

As the holiday shopping season nears a close, a recent study reveals that consumers are on pace to spend more on online purchases than ever — with e-commerce sales increasing 18.3 percent in the period starting November through Dec. 19, compared with last year. (That rate is up from the 16.9 percent growth rate reported in 2017 and the highest increase since 2005.)

The report, released by retail sales tracker Mastercard SpendingPulse, attributes the record-high figure to early wintry temperatures, particularly on the East Coast, as well as an early start to cyber promotions — both of which helped drive shoppers to websites instead of brick-and-mortar stores.

“Online shopping is experiencing a surge boosted by strong growth in apparel, department store and jewelry e-commerce sales,” explained Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard. “In addition, we’re seeing more consumers finding out about brands and listening to shopping advice from social networks, communities and friends — making it even easier to buy from any connected device.”

According to the analysis, e-commerce’s share of overall retail sales hit 13 percent this year — a new high for online market share. Clothing noted a 16.5 percent growth rate, while department stores posted results on par with electronics and jewelry, advancing between 7 and 10 percent.

E-tailers also had Black Friday and Cyber Monday to thank, with spending over Thanksgiving week soaring to their highest level. Mastercard reported that department stores saw the highest year-over-year growth in online sales on Black Friday (28.5 percent) and continued to lift overall sector sales both in stores and online on Cyber Monday.

Separately, data from Adobe Analytics — tracked over the same period measured by Mastercard — revealed a record-breaking $110.6 billion spent online, a 17.8 percent hike from a year ago. It predicts spending to reach at least $126 billion in the period ending Dec. 31.

“Weary holiday shoppers continue to look for alternatives to crowded stores, long lines and empty shelves in the final push to Christmas,” Adobe Digital Insights director Taylor Schreiner said in a statement. “Retailers who can offer the easiest shopping experience — whether through excellent use of data to anticipate shoppers’ needs or by providing an option for picking up products at brick-and-mortar stores — are the ones people are flocking to this week.”

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