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comscore-e-commerce-2010-growth-feb-2011.JPGTotal U.S. e-commerce spending reached $227.6 billion in 2010, up 9% from the previous year, according to a new white paper from comScore. “The 2010 US Digital Year in Review” also indicates that on a year-over-year basis, travel e-commerce spending grew 6% to $85.2 billion, while retail (nontravel) e-commerce spending jumped 10% to $142.5 billion for the year.

comScore analysis indicates that depressed consumer discretionary spending going back to the end of 2008 finally gave way to improving consumer sentiment, helping lead the US e-commerce market back to consistent positive growth in 2010.

Holidays Represent High Point

comscore-e-commerce-2010-top-days-feb-2011.JPGThe 2010 holiday season represented a high point in 2010 in terms of retail e-commerce growth, with growth rates surging to 12%, outpacing comScore’s initial forecast of 11% for the season.

comScore says that while some of the holiday season growth can be attributed to consumers taking advantage of discounting and promotional activity online (most notably, free shipping), it is also a clear sign of improving consumer confidence. Not surprisingly, November ($14.5 billion) and December ($18.1 billion) were the heaviest online spending months of 2010, and they also exhibited accelerating growth rates compared to the preceding months (Note: November and December growth rates were calculated based on comparable shopping days in 2009, not calendar dates.).

Interestingly, March 2010 had the highest year-over-year retail e-commerce growth rate of any month, about 18%, while in terms of spending (about $12 billion) it was the third-best month after December and November.

Cyber Monday Provides Billion Dollar Bounty

The heaviest individual spending day of the year was “Cyber Monday” (Monday, November 29, 2010), the first Monday after Thanksgiving, at $1.028 billion. This was not only the first time US retail e-commerce spending surpassed $1 billion on a single day, but also marked the first time that Cyber Monday ranked as the heaviest online spending day of the holiday season.

In addition to Cyber Monday, eight other individual days saw at least $900 million in retail e-commerce spending,, led by Monday, December 13 (“Green Monday”) with $954 million, Monday, December 6 ($943 million), and Friday, December 17 ($942 million).

Consumer Electronics Grows Most of Any Category

comscore-e-commerce-2010-categories-feb-2011.JPGSeveral retail categories performed particularly well in terms of year-over-year e-commerce sales growth during 2010. Consumer electronics ranked as the top-growing category by dollar sales at 19% growth, bolstered by the popularity of flat panel TVs and mobile devices.

Computer hardware ranked second at 17%, with low-priced computers and a growing popularity of e-readers and netbooks contributing significantly to the gains. Books & magazines (up 16%), flowers, greetings & gifts (up 13%), and jewelry & watches (up 11%) rounded out the top five.

Digital Coupons Save $32M During Holiday

Digital coupons saved US consumers a total of $32.2 million during the November-December 2010 holiday shopping season, according to data from coupon aggregator RetailmeNot.com. In November 2010, consumers saved $15.1 million with an average 27% discount. The next month, consumers saved $17.1 million with an average 26.8% discount.

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