Free shipping leads to heaviest online shopping week ever
November and December have been good for online retailers. Holiday shoppers spent 12% more than they did during the 2009 season, according to research firm ComScore.
Over the 47-day period ending Dec. 17, buyers dropped $27.5 billion online -- $5.2 billion of it last week. Four of those days brought in a haul that surpassed $900 million, making it the heaviest week of online spending in U.S. history.
The traditional spending frenzy of the post-Thanksgiving weekend -– Black Friday and Cyber Monday -– helped boost numbers, but the free shipping deals offered by more than 1,500 online merchants also were key, ComScore said.
During each week of the holiday season, more than half of transactions came with a free shipping offer.
Shoppers went gaga for computer hardware, shelling out 25% more in the category this year as they scrambled to buy laptops and handheld devices such as Apple iPads and e-readers. The consumer-electronics sector grew 22% in revenue, buoyed by flat-panel televisions. Other strong performers included books and magazines, computer software and toys.
-- Tiffany Hsu
Photo: In this photo illustration, an ad seen on the Target website for a Cyber Monday sale is displayed on laptop computers on Nov. 29, 2010. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images