Brick-and-mortar retail chains did not seem to have a great Thanksgiving week. But the latest comScore numbers show that online shopping not only had a terrific Thanksgiving but that sales growth is actually accelerating into December at a breakneck speed. This Christmas is particularly interesting for consumer electronics, because Apple has widened its smartphone selection, two new home game consoles have just launched and non-Apple tablet selection is unusually broad with Amazon, Samsung, Microsoft and a host of Asian vendors promoting their new lineups aggressively.
According to comScore, the Thanksgiving weekend online retail sales showed robust 34% growth over the same period in 2012. However, during the Cyber Weekend (whatever that is) of December 7th and December 8th, online retail sales growth soared to astonishing 71% on a year-on-year basis. The most recent weekend of December 14th and 15th still yielded 41% growth, which is well above the Thanksgiving weekend pace. No doubt online sales are cannibalizing traditional retail chains mercilessly, but these figures may well also portend overall retail spending sizzle.
It’s worth noting that some other parts of United States economy also showed sharp improvement just ahead of the Christmas shopping season. New housing starts, which is one key measure of overall economig optimism, hit a five-year high in November, spiking by 23% over the previous month.
It could be that Sony and Microsoft managed to launch their pricey new consoles at the best possible moment, just when the torturously slow American consumer spending recovery is finally kicking into a higher gear.