Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Web Shoppers Refuse to Bail Out Economy: Holiday Sales Down One Percent

ComScore, the Web analytics company that has been bringing us a weekly installment of grim news about Christmas sales since November, weighs in with its newest update. Want to hazard a guess?

Yup, more of the same: Holiday sales from Nov. 1 through Dec. 19 are down one percent compared to the same period in 2007. Which is right in line with comScore’s (SCOR) prediction of flat online sales for the holiday.

If you’d like a rosier glow to these numbers, comScore tries to oblige, by noting that average online spending between Thanksgiving and Dec. 19 is actually up five percent per day. But since there are fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year compared to previous years, that won’t help retailers’ top or bottom lines.

What are people buying on Amazon (AMZN) and other electronic storefronts? Fewer flat screen TVs, ComScore says, either because promotional discounts have tapered off or because those who need a 42-inch LCD on their walls have already got one.

Meanwhile, I’m not sure what constitutes an online “Sports and Fitness” purchase, but ComScore says people have been making many more of them this year, because the category is up 31 percent. Music, movies and videos are much more familiar, and much less popular. Sales are down 24 percent, which mirrors what Best Buy (BBY) said about its brick and mortar sales for the same goods earlier this month.


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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of Pets.com would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”