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Online Holiday Shopping Down 3% Overall for 2008

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It's the news I hoped I didn't have to share, but alas it has arrived. We hoped during the flat Black Friday and decent Cyber Monday that we could edge out the holiday season with a slight gain. But while web site traffic was up by 5% to retail sites this holiday season, it didn't translate into an increase in sales. Instead, e-tailers saw an overall decline in holiday sales of 3% in 2008, according to comScore

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“The 2008 online holiday shopping season has declined 3 percent versus year ago, falling behind our expectation of flat sales this year,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “This marks the first time we've seen negative growth rates for the holiday season since we began tracking e-commerce in 2001. The combination of having five fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas and the severe economic headwinds faced by consumers has made this a really tough season for retailers, both offline and online.”

The good news, in my humble opinion, is that 2007, the year to which 2008 is being compared to, was somewhat of a banner year. It was up 19% over 2006. So, 2008 was still up 16% over two years ago. 2006 was also a huge year over 2005. I think when we hear Wall Street folks talk about the markets correcting themselves, this 3% decline is symbolic of that. I just don't know how the growth of online sales in 2006-2007 could really have been sustained.

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