Day 147/365- Pumped for the Holidays :D

2010 has come to a close with a big holiday bang. Not only were holiday retail sales up big5.5% over 2009 for the 50 day period from November 5 to December 24 — but online retail was up some 15.4%. After a couple of years of lackluster holiday retail sales, it seems Santa finally deemed retailers "nice" — enough to get something more than a lump of coal in 2010.

Here a few highlights of the 2010 holiday retail shopping season:
  • "There were 6 days in the 2010 season that surpassed $1 billion in sales compared with 3 days in 2009. Top days included Tuesday November 30, which registered $1.16 billion in sales, and Wednesday December 1, registering $1.13 billion. The Monday after Thanksgiving generated $999.3 million in sales, a 25.3% increase compared to the Monday after Thanksgiving in 2009." [MasterCard SpendingPulse]

  • Apparel was up 11.2% over 2009 (Note: 2009 holiday season sales for Apparel were down 0.4%, so this is quite a turnaround) [MasterCard SpendingPulse]

  • Jewelry/Luxury was up 8.4% year over year for the holiday season. [MasterCard SpendingPulse]

  • Market share of visits to the Retail 500 were up 16% and 13% for Cyber Monday and Black Friday, respectively. Specifically, the Apparel and Accessories category of retailers saw tremendous growth in share of visits for key holidays like Thanksgiving (25% growth), Black Friday (over 30% growth), Cyber Monday (over 25% growth), and the day after Christmas traffic up over 25%. [Hitwise]

  • Retail eCommerce on Free Shipping Day, which fell on a Friday this year, was up huge over last year — up a whopping 61%! The retail spend on Free Shipping Day (estimated at $942 million) was almost as high as on Green Monday ($954 million) [comScore]
The massive growth in retail spending on Free Shipping Day* is interesting in light of online spending historically peaking earlier in the week and tailing off as the weekend approaches (The reverse is true for in-store spend, which typically ramps up as the week progresses peaking on Saturday and Sunday). Then again, there were 29 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day in 2010 (compared to 28 in 2009 and 27 in 2008) and Christmas Day fell on a Saturday, meaning online orders placed on Friday December 17th (Free Shipping Day) and the following Saturday and Sunday, as well, had a very good chance of being delivered in time for Christmas Day. Perhaps this reduced the urgency to order earlier in the week on what would have been Green Monday or Tuesday. Your guess is as good as mine.

Even as the impressive retail growth figures are cause for celebration, an unusual holiday twist was experienced by many on the East Coast: a white Christmas. The storm that began on Christmas Day in the form of light snow in Atlanta (the first white Christmas in Atlanta since 1882) turned into a blizzard in the Northeast. The heavy snowfall put a temporary freeze on a lot of post-Christmas bargain shopping; indeed, ShopperTrak has estimated the blizzard may have postponed as much as a billion dollars in holiday retail sales.

All in all, retailers must be rejoicing at a merry close to 2010. Here's to an even better 2011!

* Free Shipping Day is a coordinated effort whereby a huge swath of online retailers offer free shipping on one of the last days to order online and get your goods delivered by Christmas Eve.

Posted by Justin Owings, Google Retail Team