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12/30/2009
03:49 PM
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E-Sales In Holiday Surge

Social network marketing, poor weather, and free shipping offers helped push online shopping to a 5% gain during the 2009 holiday season.

Online holiday sales in 2009 sprung back to log a 5% gain after a disappointing drop in 2008, according to figures released Wednesday by online metric compiler comScore. The market research firm said about $27 billion was spent in online shopping activity during the 2009 holiday season.

The figures were influenced by a number of factors, including the deepest U.S. recession in decades, as well as heavy snow in the Northeast. More shoppers than ever used online services this year, but the amount spent per user dropped, probably as a result of the tough economic environment, comScore said.

"Following last year's disappointing performance when sales fell by 3%, the e-commerce sector saw a positive 2009 holiday shopping season with sales up by 5%," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni in a statement. "In these tough economic times, the retailers with sufficient financial resources and a willingness to invest in aggressive marketing and free shipping offers were clear winners."

In earlier comScore statistics, the company detected a strong start to online sales as a record number of Americans began visiting online retail sites in November. Online retailers utilized a series of promotions and coupons to entice shoppers to make online purchases. The snowstorm delayed some bricks-and-mortar store shopping and some shoppers who normally were likely to visit physical stores turned to the Internet for purchases.

"This was also a year when retailers substantially boosted their use of social network marketing and the larger retailers significantly outperformed their smaller brethren," said Fulgoni. "In terms of individual product categories consumer electronics saw particularly strong sales growth of slightly over 20%, while jewelry and watches also turned in a strong performance."

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