2012 U.S. Online Holiday Spending Grows 14 Percent vs. Year Ago to $42.3 Billion

Cyber Monday Ranks as Heaviest Online Spending Day for 3rd Consecutive Year at $1.465 Billion

Despite Record Spending Levels, Growth Falls Short of Initial Expectations Due to Significant Drop in Consumer Confidence in December on Fiscal Cliff Concerns

RESTON, VA, January 3, 2013– Comscore (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, today reported the final 2012 holiday season retail e-commerce spending totals. $42.3 billion was spent online during the entire November-December holiday shopping season, marking a 14-percent increase from 2011. The latter portion of the season saw several days with particularly strong growth, including Free Shipping Day on Monday, Dec. 17 (up 76 percent to $1.013 billion) and Christmas Day (up 36 percent to 288 million), but they could not make up for the spending growth shortfall earlier in the month. While the holiday season started off with strong growth rates on the upper end of the mid-teens through the heavy promotional period, a December swoon in consumer confidence gave way to softer than expected buying during the critical shopping weeks in early to mid-December, from which growth rates never fully recovered.

2012 Holiday Season Total Spending vs. 2011
Non-Travel (Retail) Spending
Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases
Total U.S. – Home & Work Locations
Source: Comscore, Inc.

Millions ($)



Percent Change

November 1-December 31




Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 22)*




Black Friday (Nov. 23)*




Thanksgiving Weekend (Nov. 24-25)*




Cyber Monday (Nov. 26)*




Green Monday (Dec. 10)*




Free Shipping Day (Dec. 17)**




Christmas Day




*Individual day comparisons based on corresponding shopping days, not corresponding calendar dates
**Free Shipping Day comparison based on corresponding shopping day in 2011 (Mon., Dec. 19) and not Free Shipping Day 2011, which occurred on Fri., Dec. 16.

“The 2012 online holiday season was once again a very strong season with growth rates in the mid-teens as we reached record-setting spending levels,” said Comscore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “This year’s growth rate is essentially on a par with last year’s. But despite many positives for the online sector, this year’s season did not quite perform up to our initial expectation for growth rates in excess of 16 percent as we fell a billion dollars short of our expected total of $43.4 billion. While November started out at a very healthy 16-percent growth rate through the promotional period of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consumers almost immediately pulled back on spending, apparently due to concerns over the looming fiscal cliff and what that might mean for their household budgets in 2013. With Congress deadlocked throughout December, growth rates softened even further and never quite made up enough ground to reach our original expectation.”

Weekly Holiday Spending Reveals Softening Growth Rates in December Despite Climbing Sales

An analysis of weekly online holiday spending totals demonstrates clearly how spending growth softened during the three most important spending weeks of the holiday season. Following four weeks of growth in the mid-to-high teens, each of the next three weeks failed to surpass a 12 percent growth rate despite their record-setting spending totals (including the first ever $7 billion week for the week ending Dec. 16). The highly variable growth rates in the final two weeks (extremely high in the penultimate week and extremely low in the final week) are primarily a function of the way the calendar fell in relation to Christmas.

2012 Weekly Online Holiday Season Spending vs. Corresponding Days in 2011
Non-Travel (Retail) Spending
Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases
Total U.S. – Home & Work Locations
Source: Comscore, Inc.

Weekly Spending ($ Millions)

Week Ending



% Change

Week 1 (11/4)




Week 2 (11/11)




Week 3 (11/18)




Week 4 (11/25)




Week 5 (12/2)




Week 6 (12/9)




Week 7 (12/16)




Week 8 (12/23)




Week 9 (12/30)




“While it is typical to see growth rates subside slightly during the week after Thanksgiving, the amplified and sustained lull this year came as something of a surprise. As it turns out, this December swoon coincided closely with a significant decline in the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index that was attributed in large part to consumers’ fiscal cliff concerns. You might say that had it not been for Congress, every other indicator suggested it would have been an even merrier Christmas for online retailers. While growth in the mid-teens for the season is still very encouraging – and certainly many times better than brick-and-mortar – it was perhaps a slightly disappointing result given the initial expectations."

Top 10 Heaviest Online Spending Days in 2012

The top ten heaviest days for online spending in 2012 all occurred during the holiday shopping period. The season was once again led by Cyber Monday (Nov. 26) with a record $1.465 billion in spending, followed by Tuesday, Dec. 4 with $1.362 billion and Green Monday (Dec. 10) with $1.275 billion. The 2012 holiday season saw 12 days with more than $1 billion spending, comfortably surpassing last year’s total of 10 individual days.

Top Ten U.S. Online Spending Days of 2012
Non-Travel (Retail) Spending
Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases
Total U.S. – Home & Work Locations
Source: Comscore, Inc.



Spending in Millions ($)


Monday, Nov. 26 (Cyber Monday)



Tuesday, Dec. 4



Monday, Dec. 10 (Green Monday)



Tuesday, Nov. 27



Tuesday, Dec. 11



Friday, Dec. 14



Thursday, Dec. 13



Monday, Dec. 3



Wednesday, Nov. 28



Wednesday, Dec. 5


About Comscore
Comscore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR) is a global leader in measuring the digital world and preferred source of digital business analytics. For more information, please visit www.comscore.com/companyinfo.

Bill Daddi
Daddi Brand Communications