MASTERCARD REPORTED THAT E-COMMERCE sales increased 13.5% this holiday compared with last year. The report was based on retail sales from all payment forms, including credit and debit cards, cash, and checks. Percentages of e-commerce spending increased by double-digits since the second week of November, outshining growth in tradition retail sales.
Overall, shoppers spent more money this year than even before the recession. Spending rose 5.5% leading up to Christmas, exceeding forecasts. Increases were witnessed in almost every retail category, with apparel leading the way, boasting an 11.2% increase. Jewelry was up 8.4%, and luxury goods increased 6.7%.
EVEN MORE EVIDENCE SHOWS shoppers stepped up online, gift card, and non-physical store spending, according to Forrester Research. Although customers are spending more in bricks-and-mortar stores, the increased comfort with spending money online appears to have taken hold. Estimated online spending is up 16% to $52 billion, according to Forrester.
MANY RETAILERS DROPPED RESTOCKING fees and return deadlines. Consumer fraud forced many stores to install stringent return policies, which the National Retail Federation estimated to total $3.7 billion this holiday season. The fraud includes returning stolen merchandise, using counterfeit receipts and returning used items. In an effort to build customer relations, retailers dropped these fees for the 2010 holiday season.
THE KINDLE THIRD GENERATION has become the best-selling item in Amazon.com history, surpassing previous all-time top seller, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said Kindle’s low $139 price is a key factor. Consumers can afford a dedicated reader in addition to other devices with e-reading capabilities.
SOCIAL NETWORKS are spreading. Social network use increased for all ages from 2008 to 2010, according to Pew Research. Use for people 18 to 33 increased from 67% to 83%. Those 45 and older more than doubled social network use, and 16% of adults 74 and older now communicate this way.