‘Free shipping day’ pulls in $1.07 billion as 2011 holiday spending tops $30 billion

This past Friday will go down in the record books as another heavy spending day this holiday season. Consumers spent a total of $1.07 billion on December 16th, otherwise known as “Free Shipping Day,” which was more than consumers spent during the entirety of the Thanksgiving weekend ($1.03 billion) and 14% more than consumers spent on the same day in 2010. Shoppers spent the most money on Cyber Monday so far this holiday season ($1.25 billion) followed by Green Monday ($1.13 billion) and Free Shipping Day.

“More than $1 billion in spending on Free Shipping Day put the exclamation point on what will almost certainly be the heaviest week of the online holiday shopping season,” comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni said. “Four individual days surpassed $1 billion in spending this week, with Green Monday leading the way at $1.13 billion. While next week may see another strong day or two at the beginning of the week, it’s clear that we have now reached the crescendo for this season and that spending will begin to slow as we get closer to Christmas, leaving Cyber Monday as the top ranked shopping day for the second year in a row.” ComScore’s press release follows below.

Free Shipping Day Punctuates Heavy Week of Online Holiday Shopping as Four Individual Days Eclipse $1 Billion in Spending and Season-to-Date Exceeds $30 Billion

Cyber Monday on Pace to be Heaviest Day of the Online Shopping Season for Second Consecutive Year

RESTON, VA, December 18, 2011 – comScore (NASDAQ : SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, today reported holiday season retail e-commerce spending for the first 46 days of the November – December 2011 holiday season. For the holiday season-to-date, $30.9 billion has been spent online, marking a 15-percent increase versus the corresponding days last year. The most recent work week (Dec. 12-16) saw four individual days surpass $1 billion in spending, led by Green Monday (Monday, December 12) with $1.13 billion and Free Shipping Day (Friday, December 16) with $1.07 billion. With the heaviest portion of the season behind us, Cyber Monday appears likely to rank as the heaviest online spending day of the year for the second consecutive season.

2011 Holiday Season To Date vs. Corresponding Days* in 2010
Non-Travel (Retail) Spending
Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases
Total U.S. – Home & Work Locations
Source: comScore, Inc.
Millions ($)
2010 2011 Percent Change
November 1 – December 16 $26,914 $30,937 15%
Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24) $407 $479 18%
Black Friday (Nov. 25) $648 $816 26%
Thanksgiving Weekend (Nov. 26-27) $886 $1,031 16%
Cyber Monday (Nov. 28) $1,028 $1,251 22%
Green Monday (Dec. 12) $954 $1,133 19%
Free Shipping Day (Dec. 16) $942 $1,072 14%
Week Ending Dec. 16 $5,508 $6,315 15%

*Corresponding days based on corresponding shopping days (November 2 thru December 17, 2010)

“More than $1 billion in spending on Free Shipping Day put the exclamation point on what will almost certainly be the heaviest week of the online holiday shopping season,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “Four individual days surpassed $1 billion in spending this week, with Green Monday leading the way at $1.13 billion. While next week may see another strong day or two at the beginning of the week, it’s clear that we have now reached the crescendo for this season and that spending will begin to slow as we get closer to Christmas, leaving Cyber Monday as the top ranked shopping day for the second year in a row.”

Have Holiday Promotions Been Frontloaded this Year?

Further analysis of retail e-commerce spending trends suggests that holiday deals, such as discounts and free shipping, may have been frontloaded during the earlier portion of the season. We analyzed the year-over-year growth rates for the Mondays and Fridays, which represent the majority of the key promotional days for the season, between Thanksgiving and Free Shipping Day. The results showed significantly higher growth rates during the days nearer to Thanksgiving, with growth rates in the mid-20s, and more modest growth rates in the teens in the middle part of December.

Analysis of 2011 Friday and Monday Spending Patterns between Thanksgiving and Free Shipping Day
Non-Travel (Retail) Spending
Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases
Total U.S. – Home & Work Locations
Source: comScore, Inc.
Friday Spending (Millions) Y/Y % Chg Monday Spending (Millions) Y/Y % Chg
Nov. 25 $815 26% Nov. 28 $1,251 27%
Dec. 2 $788 27% Dec. 5 $1,178 25%
Dec. 9 $917 15% Dec. 12 $1,132 19%
Dec. 16 $1,072 14%

Free Shipping Rates Rebound during Final Online Sales Push

comScore’s analysis of e-commerce transactions including free shipping indicated that following a decline in the second week of December, free shipping rebounded during this most recent week, which concluded with Free Shipping Day. Each week of the online holiday season-to-date has seen free shipping occur on at least half of all transactions. For the five-day week ending with Free Shipping Day, the percentage of transactions with free shipping reached 56 percent, nearly 4 percentage points higher than the corresponding time period last year.

Weekly Holiday Free Shipping Analysis
Non-Travel (Retail) Spending
Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases
Total U.S. – Home & Work Locations
Source: comScore, Inc.
Week Ending Percent of Transactions with Free Shipping
2010* 2011 Point Change
11/6/2011 41.8% 52.2% +10.4
11/13/2011 44.7% 51.2% +6.5
11/20/2011 50.2% 56.0% +5.8
11/27/2011 55.0% 64.4% +9.4
12/4/2011 51.7% 59.4% +7.7
12/11/2011 51.7% 53.0% +1.3
12/18/2011** 52.2% 56.0% +3.8

*Weeks based on corresponding shopping days for 2010
**2011 data based on five-day week (Dec. 12-16)

“Free shipping is undoubtedly one of the most important incentives for consumers and has become a key driver of online buying activity over the past few years,” added Mr. Fulgoni. “This season has seen a continuation of the trend where an increasing percentage of transactions involve free shipping, as more consumers demand it and more retailers provide it. During the week of Thanksgiving and Cyber Week we saw at least 3 in 5 transactions use free shipping, significantly higher rates than we’ve ever previously observed.”

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