Amid the disappointment that was the retail landscape on Thanksgiving weekend, there was a bit of hope that Cyber Monday would set a record for the amount of sales. The numbers are in, and there is a new one-day online sales record:
comScore (SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, today reported holiday season U.S. retail e-commerce spending from desktop computers for the first 32 days of the November-December 2013 holiday season. For the holiday season-to-date, $23.9 billion has been spent online, marking an 8-percent increase versus the corresponding days last year (and a 25-percent increase if using the alternate comparison of the 4-week period preceding Thanksgiving).
Cyber Monday reached $1.735 billion in desktop online spending, up 18 percent versus year ago, representing the heaviest online spending day in history and the second day this season (in addition to Black Friday’s $1.198 billion) to surpass $1 billion in sales. The weekend after Thanksgiving posted particularly strong growth online, raking in $1.594 billion in spending for an increase of 34 percent compared to the same weekend last year. For the five-day period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, online buying from desktop computers totaled $5.3 billion, up 22 percent versus last year.
While that is an impressive number, it does not make up for the 2.9% decline in total sales, both in brick-and-mortar stores and online, during the four-day Thanksgiving weekend. The 18% increase in Cyber Monday sales is only $0.26 billion, while the 2.9% decline in the Thanksgiving weekend sales was $1.7 billion. That leaves the early holiday sales for 2013 $1.4 billion behind 2012’s pace.
That leads me to the incredible increase in inventories that represents nearly half of the third-quarter GDP growth. An increase in inventories is only a net positive if it can be sold at a profit. Judging by the early holiday shopping results, it does not appear that is going to happen.