November 30, 2010 / 1:47 AM / 9 years ago

Shoppers drive solid Cyber Monday sales

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Consumers heeded the call of online retailers on Cyber Monday, ringing up double-digit sales growth on that key e-commerce holiday shopping day, according to data released on Tuesday.

A man walks past televisions for sale at a Best Buy store in New York November 23, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The surge in sales on Monday exceeded expectations in a consumer environment still tempered by high unemployment and worries over the economy.

Online same-store sales, which measure Web retailers active for more than a year, rose 36 percent from the prior year, according to ChannelAdvisor, which helps retailers maximize Web selling.

ChannelAdvisor said same-store sales for their retail clients selling wares on Inc rose 98.1 percent, while those on eBay Inc rose 14.6 percent.

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is widely expected to be a prime beneficiary of robust online sales this holiday. The company’s shares rose to an all-time high on Cyber Monday. They retreated on Tuesday to close down 2.3 percent, but are still up more than 30 percent this year.

In a separate report, web analytics firm IBM Coremetrics said U.S. online sales rose 19.4 percent from Cyber Monday 2009, with the average value of orders up 8.3 percent.

Both IBM Coremetrics and ChannelAdvisor said Cyber Monday was the strongest sales day over the long Thanksgiving shopping weekend.

Some retail experts questioned whether Cyber Monday would retain the sales strength it enjoyed in the past five years, due to more deals coming earlier in November, including on Thanksgiving.

But data showed those fears to be overblown.

EBay’s PayPal unit reported a 19 percent rise in total payment volume on Cyber Monday over last year, with volume about 47 percent greater than an average Monday.

At eBay’s main marketplaces unit, computers and networking equipment and cellphones and PDAs were the highest performers, with sales rising 11 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

Mercent, whose clients offer their wares across a host of online retailers, reported a 36 percent rise in gross merchandise volume for its sellers. That data point, which measures the total amount of goods sold, rose to 98.1 percent for those clients selling on Amazon, Mercent said. Earlier growth data issued from the company were not as robust.

The Monday after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday was dubbed Cyber Monday five years ago to entice shoppers online. Originally, people returning to work after the break browsed for gifts on office computers, but the day has since attracted a wider group of shoppers.

While most online retailers do not disclose sales data for particular days, retail marketplace said its sales growth for Cyber Monday was 48 percent from the year-ago period as of 5 p.m. PST (0100 GMT Tuesday).

GSI Commerce Inc, which helps retailers sell online and is the owner of flash luxury shopping site RueLaLa, said the peak shopping time on Cyber Monday came late at night.

“This late-night shopping is a function of consumers being hesitant and procrastinating during tough economic times,” said Fiona Dias, executive vice president of strategy and marketing for GSI Commerce.

Many consumers, she said, tended to click “only when faced with a looming deadline when the sale ends.”

Online spending growth outpaces that at brick-and-mortar stores, where sales have remained tepid. But e-commerce still makes up just a small percentage of the overall retail market.

Analytics firm comScore, which plans to release Cyber Monday data on Wednesday, expects overall online sales for November and December to rise 11 percent to $32.4 billion, compared with the same time last year.

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