Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Holiday Web Shoppers Are Spending. But Not at Mom and Pop’s Web Site.

Shoppers continue to spend more online, regardless of whether they’re doing so at the mall. But this tide isn’t raising all boats equally: Holiday shopping is up at the biggest Web retailers, says comScore (SCOR), but it’s down everywhere else.

The numbers are pretty striking:

comscore online retail by size

It’s easy enough to figure out why this happening. Economies of scale mean the big guys can cater to price-conscious shoppers, and a crummy economy makes their marketing advantage over the little guys even more pronounced.

I’d argue that there’s a trepidation factor, too. I’ll admit that I’ve been wavering on buying a gadget in large part because the only place on the Web that sells it is the manufacturer’s site.  Amazon (AMZN) and Target (TGT) must know this, since they’ve bought the search keywords for the gizmo even though they don’t sell it. Sneaky.

Meanwhile, comScore says, overall online spending is up four percent this holiday season, running ahead of the tracking service’s prediction of a three percent bump.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald