While not a shock considering the way this past quarter has been going for the economy in general, the Wall Street Journal reported online sales declines for ecommerce for the first time ever during this past holiday shopping sales.
The numbers aren’t dramatic but some would say that just the fact that they were negative is enough. Online spending from November 1 through Christmas Eve was down 2% compared to 5.5% to 8.5% for retail as a whole. This is the first time that online sales for the holiday season have not grown. Normally we are talking about how ridiculous complaints are of growth numbers that are the envy of all (what only 15% growth, why not 35%?) but now the industry must examine how the current economy is finally impacting online business.
The most interesting thing to come out of this appears to be that if it weren’t for big players like Amazon, who had its best ever holiday sales season, the numbers may have been a lot worse. Amazon used its size and influence to offer discounts that shoppers were looking for. Other online outlets couldn’t match them and thus a lot of business may have moved to Amazon for the future as well.
Moving forward it appears as if the deep discounting that ‘saved’ the holiday season online may continue for the like of Target and others. Offers of free shipping and up to 75% off on over 30,000 items are designed to get people to buy something post holiday. Target’s overall traffic was down 9% for the holiday period.
Andrew Lipsman, ComScore’s director of industry analysis, says there are reasons why players like Amazon, Apple and Wal-Mart fared well during this downturn
Each f these sites is known for separating themselves from the field – Amazon by offering some of the widest variety of goods, while Apple provides innovative products and Wal-Mart proffers some of the lowest prices.
Once again, none of this is stunning given the current state of the economy. I guess that since most of us are not Amazon, Apple or Wal-Mart nor do we have the resources they do what’s next for the rest of industry? How does ’09 shape up for you and what do you plan to do to get through this? How did the holiday season go for you? I think we can all agree that things are just beginning to get interesting and the start of the New Year hasn’t been this uncertain in quite some time.