E-commerce posts first ever year-over-year decline

Market researcher ComScore says e-commerce took a hit in November, marking its first annual decline since consumers learned how to fill their online shopping carts.

Update at 1:38 p.m. PDT, with additional details from the ComScore report.

Online shoppers put a stranglehold on their wallets in the first several weeks of November, marking the first historic decline in e-commerce sales, according to a ComScore report released Tuesday.

Market researcher ComScore said online shopping declined 4 percent during the first 23 days of November, compared with a comparable time period last year.

During the first 23 days of the month, ComScore said online retailers rang up a total of $8.19 billion in sales.

For online retailers, growth in e-commerce sales had been steadily declining since last December and finally slipped into the red this month, said Andrew Lipsman, a ComScore spokesman.

Gian Fulgoni, ComScore chairman, said in a statement that the recession has taken a toll on e-tailers:

Despite the recent reprieve that plummeting gas prices have given American consumers, the depressed and volatile stock market, declining housing prices, inflation, and the weak job market all represent dark clouds hanging over their heads this holiday shopping season.

With consumer confidence low and disposable income tight, the first weeks of November have been very disappointing, with online retail spending declining versus a year ago. It's also likely that some budget-conscious consumers are planning to wait to buy until later in the season to take advantage of retailers' even more aggressive discounting.

ComScore expects the combined November-December holiday selling season will ultimately break even when compared with the same two-month period last year.

E-commerce has risen 9 percent year to date, according to the market researcher. That growth rate, however, is substantially less than the 19 percent posted last year.

The results of the ComScore report were initially reported in the New York Times.

 

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