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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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus