E-commerce sales continue to grow, proving that more and more consumers are choosing to shop online in addition to or instead of shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. Measurement firm comScore reported that online retail spending (excluding auctions, autos and large corporate purchases) for the fourth quarter reached $49.7 billion, up 14% versus year ago. This growth rate represented the ninth consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth and the fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth rates. For the entire 2011 year, U.S. retail e-commerce spending reached a record $161.5 billion, marking a 13% increase from 2010.
"The fourth quarter of 2011 capped off what was yet another strong year for online retail, one in which every quarter achieved double-digit increases versus the prior year," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. "In the face of continuing uncertainty regarding the U.S. economy, consumers increasingly went online for their shopping needs. Price and convenience continue to be the critical value drivers for e-commerce, and unless those conditions change we can expect to see more channel-shifting to online in 2012 and perhaps even an acceleration in the current growth trend."
According to comScore, online sales were dominated by digital content and subscriptions, jewelry and watches, consumer electronics, toys and hobbies and computer software. The quarter was also marked by 10 individual days that surpassed $1 billion in online spending. They include Cyber Monday (Nov. 28) at $1.251 billion. Monday, Dec. 5, 2011, ranked second at $1.178 billion, followed by Green Monday (Dec. 12) at $1.133 billion.