U.S. online purchases up 16 percent on year in first 51 days of holiday season

American consumers spent 16 percent more on Internet purchases in the first 51 days of the holiday season at $38.7 billion, said online sales tracking company comScore.

Sales on Free Shipping Day, December 17, were $1.01 billion, with free delivery helping a 53-percent rise in spending.

Free Shipping Day together with “the fact that so many retailers extended their promotions into the middle of the week, with guaranteed shipping by Christmas, helped deliver an encouraging late-season surge,” said comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni.

The holiday season saw at least 12 days with more than $1 billion in spending each, compared with 10 such days that broke $1 billion in 2011.

The highest amount was posted on Cyber Monday, December 3, with a record $1.47 billion in spending, followed by December 4 with $1.36 billion, and Green Monday, December 10 with $1.28 billion.