Online Christmas spending up14 percent on year in 2012

American shoppers' online holiday spending rose 14 percent on the year last year, according to retail research firm comScore Inc.

However overall spending was lower than its initial expectations due to fears about the impact of the fiscal cliff battering consumer confidence in December.

Online spending came to US$42.3 billion in the November-December holiday shopping season.

Although the growth in online spending is about the same as that recorded for the year-earlier period, comScore had previously forecast spending of US$43.4 billion.

"While November started out at a very healthy 16-percent growth rate through the promotional period of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consumers almost immediately pulled back on spending, apparently due to concerns over the looming fiscal cliff and what that might mean for their household budgets in 2013," says comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni.

"With Congress deadlocked throughout December, growth rates softened even further and never quite made up enough ground to reach our original expectation," he adds.

Although the first four weeks of the holiday season posted weekly percentage rises in spending in the mid-to-high teens, the next three weeks – in early to mid-December – did not pass 12 percent level despite record-setting spending totals.

And although the later part of the holiday season saw several high-spending days, such as free shipping day on December 17 and Christmas Day, they could not make up for the lower spending earlier in the month.

According to comScore, the best day for online spending was Cyber Monday on November 26 which saw a record US$1.465 billion in online spending.

The holiday season posted spending of US$1 billion or more on 12 days compared with 10 such days in 2011.