Nov 26, 2008

Business - First-ever decline in online retail spending: comScore

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Online retail spending fell four percent in the first weeks of November from the same period last year, the first ever such decline in e-commerce spending, online researcher comScore reported on Tuesday.

The Reston, Virginia-based company said 8.2 billion dollars was spent online during the first 23 days of November, four percent less than during the same period last year, when 8.5 billion dollars was spent online.

ComScore forecast that online retail spending for the November-December holiday period will be flat versus year ago, significantly lower than last year's growth rate of 19 percent.

Comcast said it expected e-commerce spending of 29.2 billion dollars during the period, the same as last year.

"Despite the recent reprieve that plummeting gas prices have given American consumers, the depressed and volatile stock market, declining housing prices, inflation and the weak job market all represent dark clouds hanging over their heads this holiday shopping season," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.

"With consumer confidence low and disposable income tight, the first weeks of November have been very disappointing, with online retail spending declining versus year ago," he added.

Online retail spending during the January-October period grew by nine percent over the same period last year to 102.1 billion dollars.