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Online spending grew 5% this holiday season [Corrected]

December 30, 2009 |  4:54 pm
E-commerce
Though total online spending was up, the average amount spent per person actually declined. Credit: fosforix via Flickr.

Blame it on Mother Nature.

Holiday shoppers, perhaps thwarted by snowstorms in the Northeast, went on an online spree this holiday, spending $27.1 billion between Nov. 1 and Christmas Eve, according to a report released today from ComScore.

The amount is a 5% uptick from 2008, when buyers spent $25.8 billion online during the same time period. Of course, last year represented a low bar, with sales down 3% from 2007.

This year's increase should not be taken as a sign of broader economic revival, cautioned ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni. For one thing, online sales continue to be less than 10% of overall retail spending.

Secondly, part of the sales uptick came from an increase in the number of people turning to online stores, perhaps because of the bad weather that plagued parts of the country in the days prior to Christmas. In fact, the average amount spent online per person actually declined as shoppers remain wary.

"Online sales growth this year was driven by a continued increase in the number of people buying online," Fulgoni said, "but consumers’ economic challenges resulted in a slight decline versus last year in the amount spent per buyer."

It wasn't just the convenience of shopping without having to shovel their cars out of a snowdrift that attracted buyers. Also luring folks online this year: more free shipping offers and aggressive deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving).

Categories that sold well: jewelry and consumer electronics such as iPods, Kindles and Flip video cameras.

-- Alex Pham

CORRECTION: This post corrects the 2008 online sales figure to $25.8 billion.

Follow my random thoughts on games, gear and technology on Twitter @AlexPham.

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