US holiday season spending up from last year

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The Independent Online

American consumers are spending more online this holiday season than they did in 2008, according to new e-commerce data.

For the period November 1 - 22, 2009, consumers have spent $8.21 billion online, a 2 percent increase from the 2008 figure for the same period. The beginning of the holiday shopping season is viewed as an important indicator for the remainder of the year, with many retailers pinning their hopes for 2009 on a healthier festive period. Alongside online sales, The National Retail Federation has suggested that up to 134 million US consumers plan to hit the shops to start their shopping this weekend as Black Friday kicks off the traditional bricks and mortar shopping season, while many retailers are also offering Black Friday specials online.

The latest online data, released by US digital analyst comScore, is encouraging news for the world's largest economy. Overall, the firm is predicting a 3 percent increase in holiday spending (November/December) from 2008. Whilst positive news, this still represents a marked contraction to the 20 percent or higher growth rates seen in years before the economic downturn. Online sales from January to October 2009 fell 1 percent from $102.1bn to $100.7bn year-on-year.

Recent data released by Mastercard also appears to show that overall consumer spending is at least stable in the US, with sectors reporting a mix of decline and growth for the first part of the holiday season. For the period to November 14, data suggests that US consumers spent 9 percent less on luxury products than the year before, whilst electronic sales showed a 6.1 percent year-on-year increase.