Press Releases

December 17, 2008

Free Shipping an Important Stimulus of E-Commerce Spending Again this Holiday Season

Most Recent Week Shows Online Consumer Spending Moderates as Consumers Prepare for Final Week of Online Discounts and Promotions

RESTON, VA, December 17, 2008 – comScore (NASDAQ : SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, today reported its tracking of holiday season retail e-commerce spending for the first 44 days of the November – December 2008 holiday season. For the holiday season through December 14, $20.17 billion has been spent online, essentially the same level compared to the corresponding days last year. For the fourteen days beginning December 1 (Cyber Monday), the kick-off to the heaviest part of the online shopping season, sales totaled $9 billion, up 2 percent versus year ago. However, the most recent week (week ending December 14) saw e-commerce sales decline 2 percent, a sign that consumers have once again moderated their spending.

2008 Holiday Season To Date vs. Corresponding Days* in 2007
Non-Travel (Retail) Spending
Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases
Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
Source: comScore, Inc.
Holiday Season to Date Millions ($)
2007 2008 Pct Change
November 1 – December 14 $20,265 $20,172 0%
Dec .1 (Cyber Monday) – Dec. 14 $8,781 $8,993 2%
Dec. 8 – Dec. 14 $4,640 $4,544 -2%

*Corresponding days based on equivalent shopping days relative to Thanksgiving (October 27 – December 9, 2007)

“It appears that the spending surge we saw immediately following Thanksgiving has given way to more moderate buying during the most recent week,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “The current week will be particularly crucial to the overall performance of the season, as we expect to see heavy spending during the final days of online buying that qualify for guaranteed delivery by Christmas.”

Free Shipping Deals Critical to Online Spending in Weak Retail Economy

With free shipping becoming an increasingly important incentive for online shoppers, comScore conducted an analysis to determine the effect of free shipping on online consumer behavior this holiday season. The results show a clear correlation between consumers’ use of free shipping and both the dollars spent per order and the overall growth in online spending versus last year.

Retailers offered a flurry of free shipping deals during the weeks of Thanksgiving (week ending November 30) and then the following week (week ending December 7), which included Cyber Monday promotions. Each of these weeks saw average order values climb significantly and positive spending growth versus year ago. However, when some retailers pulled back on free shipping deals during the most recent week (week ending December 14), average order values declined and the week experienced negative growth versus year ago.

Free Shipping Analysis on Holiday E-Commerce Transactions
Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases
Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
Source: comScore, Inc.
Week Ending

Share of Total

E-Commerce Transactions Including Free Shipping

Average Order Value on Transactions Including Free Shipping Weekly Online Spending Growth vs. Corresponding Week in 2007
Nov. 16, 2008 36% $93 -7%
Nov. 23, 2008 39% $99 -11%
Nov. 30, 2008 42% $120 1%
Dec. 7, 2008 40% $133 7%
Dec. 14, 2008 38% $104 -2%

“Over the past few years, free shipping has emerged as a critically important incentive for online shoppers, and its importance has been magnified in the current retail environment,” added Fulgoni. “The most recent week has shown retailers that now is not the time to pull back on the offers that are successfully persuading consumers to spend. Fortunately, the final full week of online holiday shopping will feature an array of attractive free shipping deals, including the industry’s promotion of Friday, December 18 as “free shipping day”, the final day for consumers to place their orders with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve. Consumers will hopefully respond by once again opening their wallets to help this challenging season end on a high note.”

Weekly Online Retail Spending

Members of the media interested in receiving the data behind the above chart for use in a graphical representation, please contact

comScore’s Summary of 2008 Holiday Online Retail Spending by Key Time Period

Online Non-Travel (Retail) Holiday Consumer Spending
Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases
Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
Source: comScore, Inc.
  Millions ($)
2007 2008 Pct Change
January – October $93,551 $102,144 9%
comScore Holiday Season Forecast (Nov-Dec) $29,169 $29,200** 0%**
November 27 (Thanksgiving Day)* $273 $288 6%
November 28 (Black Friday)* $531 $534 1%
December 1 (Cyber Monday)* $733 $846 15%

* Versus Corresponding Shopping Day in 2007 Relative to Thanksgiving


About comScore
comScore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR) is a global leader in measuring the digital world and preferred source of digital marketing intelligence. For more information, please visit

Andrew Lipsman
comScore, Inc.
+1 312 775 6510


Tags: e-Commerce, Holiday Shopping, Retail, Shopping