Online holiday sales drop 3 percent

Online retailers record first sales decline in eight years, despite a 15 percent increase on Cyber Monday, the second-biggest day of online shopping ever.

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Online holiday spending declined 3 percent compared with last year's online shopping season, the first negative growth rate in the past eight years, according to a ComScore report released Tuesday.

Between November 1 and December 23, U.S. online merchants recorded $25.5 billion in sales, down from $26.3 billion during the same period last year, ComScore reported. Gian Fulgoni, the research firm's chairman, blamed economic pessimism for the poor results:

The combination of having five fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas and the severe economic headwinds faced by consumers has made this a really tough season for retailers, both offline and online.

Sales declined despite a 15 percent increase in sales on Cyber Monday, the second biggest day of online shopping ever. Cyber Monday saw sales of $846 million, capping off a successful Thanksgiving holiday weekend for the industry, which overall saw spending jump 13 percent.

When October sales are factored in, the sales picture appears even more bleak. Between October 1 and December 28, online sales declined 4 percent to $36.8 billion, according to ComScore's numbers.

However, traffic to top e-tailer sites increased 5 percent in December over the same period last year, according to ComScore numbers. Online auctioneer eBay saw a traffic decline of 4 percent, while Amazon.com saw an increase of 7 percent. Other gainers included Hewlett-Packard (28 percent), Apple (19 percent), and Wal-Mart Stores (4 percent).