Cyber Monday sales 4.7% above expectations

It was indeed a tremendous sales day in the US last Cyber Monday -- Yahoo's travails notwithstanding. ComScore estimates American consumers spent $733 million online that day.

According to comScore statistics released yesterday, sales volume for last Monday was up 21% over 2006, and 4.7% higher than its projection last week of $700 million even. But in an unusual prediction, the analytics firm's chairman, Gian Fulgoni, said it expects some days between now and Christmas to yield even higher online sales volume, past the $800 million mark.

One statistic that leads credence to that prediction concerns overall online sales volume for the month: Cyber Monday contributed 6.8% of the total sales for the first 26 days of November, during a day that constitutes 3.8% of that period. From that vantage point, last Monday's sales were only 77.4% higher than normal volume.

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Overall, the number of visitors tracked by comScore to its participating retailers was up 38% over last year. However, each visitor spent an average of 12% less that day -- an indicator that online shopping is becoming the alternative venue for bargain hunters and cost-conscious consumers, although they may have been driven toward that alternative by a declining economy.

All the top 10 retail sites tracked by comScore recorded higher traffic last Monday than for Cyber Monday 2006. But the fact that their gains were so high -- for #1 Amazon, up 50%; for #10 MSN Shopping, an astounding 261% -- could be an indicator that sales for sites lower down on the list may have less participation in the feast, especially with the overall average coming in at 38%. Among the top 10 alone, traffic increased by an average of 108%.

Surprisingly, the least bountiful harvest among the top 10 was reaped by the firm with some of the highest physical storefront traffic gains over the weekend: Apple, whose online traffic Monday only increased by 5% over the previous year.

Circuit City is one of the online stores we've been watching, as the company made drastic cuts to its workforce earlier this year, partly in response to less-than-pleasing performance in 2006. Although sales figures have yet to be released, comScore projects Circuit City's Cyber Monday traffic increased 136% over the prior year, with arch-rival Best Buy's traffic up 110%.

An online survey of some 38,000 visitors to online venues over the Thanksgiving weekend and into Cyber Monday, conducted by ForeSee Results, showed that on a scale of 1 to 100, consumers' overall satisfaction with their online shopping experience rose a measly 1 point, from a score of 75.6 last year to 76.6 this year.

Dragging that figure down, the firm concludes, is a lower satisfaction score on Cyber Monday alone than for the previous year. Consumers surveyed said their relative dissatisfaction with Cyber Monday performance tends toward two categories: the unresponsiveness of Web sites to browsing and order placement, or in some cases their complete unavailability; and their own relative unfamiliarity with the whole online shopping experience, as more novices enter the market this year.

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