After years of steady growth, consumer frugality and increasing unemployment helped push e-commerce spending back a step in 2009 according to online retail spending data compiled by comScore Inc.
The Reston, Va.-based internet researcher reported that overall 2009 online spending was $129.8 billion, down 0.2 percent from $130.1 billion the previous year. The decrease would have been even larger were it not for a strong fourth quarter, when spending grew at 3 percent during the busy holiday shopping season. comScore reported 4Q 2009 spending at $39.05 billion, which certainly helped end the year on a positive note but can’t overshadow just how much a struggling economy is affecting both consumer spending habits and online retail sales in general.
Even retailers’ efforts to incorporate social media and networking into their sales and marketing operations could not reverse the downward trend, as shoppers everywhere tightened their purse strings.
comScore’s chairman, Gian Fulgoni, said yesterday as part of the report’s unveiling that retailers should remain optimistic that they can endure and continue to attract consumer spending but cautioned against overall growth in the industry as long as high unemployment figures remain a part of the current economic climate.
Substantiating that warning is a separate report from MyBuys.com, which revealed that retailers are already off on the wrong foot in 2010. The MyBuys reported listed January revenue for online retail down 7.5 percent from January of 2009, with revenue from products sold at full price also down 11 percent as well. Revenue from discounted products was up 44 percent last month, a very clear signal that even those consumers venturing onto the web for shopping thus far in 2010 are going after items that are on sale and eschewing full-price and big ticket items.
Other highlights from the comScore report:
–Larger retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart were able to put some distance between themselves and smaller rivals with strong 4th quarters in 2009;
–Free shipping deals factored into more than 40 percent of online sales transactions during the 2009 holiday season;
–The Q4 2009 increases reflect an increase in the total number of online shoppers, though spending per user/buyer declined overall
So, what kind of year do you think 2010 will be for online retailers? Will this decrease in sales and revenue carry over throughout the year or was it a small bump in the road? We want to hear from you so leave us a comment!