Online holiday sales growth seen up again: comScore

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Online spending this holiday is now expected to rise by 11 percent over last year, comScore said on Tuesday, marking the second time the analytics firm has raised its closely watched view.

A box from is pictured on the porch of a house in Golden, Colorado July 23, 2008. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

The increased bullishness over e-commerce sales comes as retailers both on and offline ready for the key Thanksgiving weekend when holiday shoppers head to stores or to their computers in search of deals.

The new spending outlook should bring total holiday e-commerce spending to $32.4 billion, comScore said.

Cyber Monday, the day when consumers head back to work after the Thanksgiving weekend, is considered the kick-off to the online shopping season. But brick-and-mortar retailers from Wal-Mart Stores Inc to Staples Inc are focused on early deals at their online units, while Internet giant has already gained market share this season, analysts say.

One week ago, comScore told Reuters in an exclusive interview that it was raising its forecast from an earlier projected gain of 7 percent to a new projection of 9 percent. It noted then that the outlook might be raised further.

The new outlook announced Tuesday is based on the first 21 days of the November and December season, in which $9.01 billion has already been spent, marking a 13 percent increase over the year-ago period, comScore said.

ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said the holiday e-commerce season had “gotten off to an extremely positive start.”

“Despite continued high unemployment rates and other economic concerns, consumers seem to be more willing to open up their wallets this holiday season than last,” Fulgoni said in a statement.

He attributed the surge of purchases to deep discounts that started earlier than in 2009, when U.S. e-commerce sales rose 4 percent during the two-month holiday period.

Online sales make up approximately 7 percent of the overall retail pie, according to comScore, and brick-and-mortar retailers are expecting a far less rosy sales outlook this year.

The National Retail Federation expects 2010 holiday retail sales -- which exclude online as well as food, vehicle and gasoline sales -- to rise a mere 2.3 percent this year to $447.1 billion.

Reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Phil Berlowitz