Online Sales Grew 19%

The good news is that online sales this holiday season grew 19 percent over last year. The bad news is that the lowest pace of growth on record.

Still, 19 percent is nothing to slouch at. Moreover, as online sales get larger, it's only natural that the pace of growth would slow. It's easier to post eye-popping percentage gains when you're working with a smaller base. Going from $1 billion to $2 billion is a $1 billion gain in sales and 100 percent growth. But going from $2 billion to $3 billion is also a $1 billion gain and yet just 50 percent growth. So is the slowing growth of the internet a sign of a bad season or simply the law or large numbers?

Internet sales by U.S. retailers during the holiday season rose at the slowest pace on record as consumers grappled with $3-a-gallon gasoline and the worst housing slump in 16 years.

Online spending from Nov. 1 through Dec. 27 increased 19 percent to almost $28 billion, from $24 billion a year earlier, Reston, Virginia-based ComScore Inc. said in a statement. Sales growth trailed last year's 26 percent.

Shoppers withheld spending until after Christmas, seeking deeper discounts by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, and Best Buy Co., the biggest U.S. consumer electronics chain. Online sales the day after Christmas totaled $545 million, more than double revenue on the same day in 2006. ComScore said.

“Consumers went shopping for price,” Kurt Barnard, president of Barnard's Retail Forecasting in Nutley, New Jersey, said yesterday in an interview. “They looked at the price tag before they looked at the product.”

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