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Online Spending for the Holiday Up 15.4%

Now that Christmas 2010 is behind us it’s time to look at just how well the holiday shopping season was for the online crowd. If we are to believe the numbers reported by the Wall Street Journal and MasterCard Advisors it was very merry indeed.

According to a WSJ article there are more than one source reporting an increase

The current year’s increase is “a very healthy growth rate and one of the positive stories of 2010,” said Michael MacNamara, vice president of research and analysis at SpendingPulse.

Sales over the Internet now account for about 10% of all retail sales, excluding purchases of automobiles and gas, according to SpendingPulse.

Facebook and Google Expand on Social Shopping

I don’t think of shopping as a social experience, unless it’s a day at the mall with my friends. But when I’m online trying to fill a particular need, I’m not all that interested in sharing my choices with those who follow me on Facebook. Apparently, I’m alone in this because Google and Facebook are both working hard to make shopping a big part of their business.

Back in November, Google bought Boutiques.com. This site groups high-ticket fashion items by celebrity then uses a Likes and Dislikes algorithm to determine which tops, dresses and shoes are good for you. There’s an option to follow each of the celeb boutiques and every item has a share button so you can show those sweet $800.00 shoes to your boss on Facebook to explain why you need a raise.

The JCPenney’s Facebook Shopping “Experience”

Some of the big news coming out of Facebook is their move into having full-blown stores by retailers inside their Fan / Like Pages. This is the new social commerce that many are talking about these days and it appears to be poised to bring a lot of money to retailers and Facebook alike: if it worked.

Before I share my experience with trying to “shop” at JCPenney on Facebook let’s hear the corporate view of what is trying to be done. Bloomberg Businessweek reports

Facebook is ramping up efforts to entice companies such as Delta Air Lines and J.C. Penney to sell wares on its pages and convert more of its 500 million users into online shoppers.

Commerce Department, Ma’am. Privacy Division

I can see it now. The black screen, the ominous ba bum sound and then the words, Law & Order: Privacy Division. They’re federal agents who put their lives on the line every day so that you, the internet user, can surf without fear of being molested by targeted Old Navy ads and free lunch coupons on your birthday. Sure they’re making it hard for the small business marketer to sell his wares, but hey, that’s the way the browser cookie crumbles. Get over it.

So, maybe it won’t be on next fall’s TV schedule, but it may be coming to a computer near you, if the federal government gets their way. Yesterday, the Commerce Department released the Internet Policy Task Force Privacy Green Paper which is loaded with recommendations “aimed at promoting consumer privacy online while ensuring the Internet remains a platform that spurs innovation, job creation, and economic growth.”

Mall of America Runs a Twitter “Parking?” Party

Twitter parties are all the rage with social media moms, but this Saturday, Mall of America is taking that concept one step further with the “Big Secret Parking Party.”

Everyone knows the horror of holiday parking at the local mall, but imagine the nightmare at the biggest mall in the US! It’s enough to make even the jolliest person turn into the Grinch. So this year, for the first time ever, Mall of America will be rewarding their loyal Twitter followers with a VIP ticket to the best parking around.

The event is being run through EventBrite where batches of tickets are being released twice a day for a total of 96 spaces. To claim a ticket, a person must follow the mall on Twitter and provide their Twitter name. There are also very specific times for arrival and a print out of the registration is required.

Holidays, Charity and Daily Deals

In an interesting look at the daily deal phenomenon that has everyone chattering in the recent past, some researchers have taken a look at whether daily deals influence how people do two things related to giving (at least in theory): holiday shopping and charitable giving.

First, eMarketer reports on data from another daily deal player, Eversave. Of course, we offer the usual “remember the source!” warnings since someone like Eversave has a vested interest in getting the word out to fight against the Google of the deal space, Groupon.

This first chart relates to how people may or may not turn to deal sites for holiday shopping.

Free Shipping is the Battle Cry This Holiday Season

Free shipping! Online retailers are shouting it from the rooftops and it could be the key to staying out of the red this holiday season. ComScore worked the numbers and discovered that unlike last year, the percentage of transactions with free shipping continued to rise after Black Friday. Last year, free shipping orders dropped to 45% late in November, but this year they climbed to 55.1%.

I do the majority of my holiday shopping online and I noticed this trend long before I saw this report. Nearly every online store I visited was offering free shipping on any size order. That’s not just a boon for people buying a whole sleigh full of presents from one retailer. A no threshold offer encourages people to buy small items that would have been too pricey with shipping included like a $5.00 pair of slippers from Kohls.