Online Holiday Spending Reaches $16 Billion; Social Media Continues To Influence Purchases

We heard strong reports for online traffic Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but today, comScore added definitive spending numbers that indicate that holiday shopping online is picking up this year. For the holiday season-to-date, nearly $16 billion has been spent online, which is a 3 percent increase versus the same period last year. The most recent week ending December 6 reached $4.6 billion in holiday spending, which surpassed any individual spending week in 2008 but was still below two individual weeks in 2007. comScore reports that $887 million was spent on Cyber Monday, but decreased steadily as the week continued.

In an interesting twist to the usual online spending reports, comScore dug a little deeper with respondents on the influence of social media on their holiday shopping behavior. According a survey taken last week, 28 percent of shoppers surveyed said that social media has influenced their purchases. Consumer-generated product reviews, like those seen on both retail sites and standalone review sites was the most common form of social media that had influenced holiday purchases (13 percent of respondents), followed by an expert product review (11 percent).

Seven percent of respondents said they took advantage of deals and offers advertised on Facebook Fan pages while while 6 percent said they were influenced by a friend’s Facebook status update referring to a particular product. This is a really compelling factoid for any online site that uses Facebook Connect to allow users to update status with deals and purchases from their site. Five percent of respondents said they had followed a company on Twitter to take advantage of special offers and deals, while 3 percent said that a friend’s “tweet” about a product influenced their purchase behavior.

The trend of social media influence on shopping is truly fascinating and one that will surely grow. Review sites like Retrevo are incorporating Twitter into their platform and retailers like BestBuy, Dell and others are taking advantage of social media to promote their deals and products. Today, Dell reported that it rung up $6.5 million in sales thanks to Twitter promotions. Obviously, social networks can be a boon to retailers.

Of course, comScore’s numbers still have room for two to three more weeks of online holiday shopping spending, so the $16 billion is sure to rise.

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