Retail supply chains still feeling heavy holiday shoppingRecent data released by digital information analyst comScore revealed that holiday shoppers are increasingly turning to online shopping, especially late in the season. This information may be important for merchants considering ending their holiday procurement strategies, slowing their logistical operations or making changes to their online promotions before the holiday season is over.

The data from comScore showed that online shopping for the first 46 days of the holiday season shot up 13 percent in 2012. Over the course of the entire season, consumers have spent more than $35 billion on the web, and over the last week, merchants made $7 billion in online sales, setting a new record for ecommerce.

"We expected this past week to be record-setting and it clearly was, with an impressive spending total of more than $7 billion – an average of more than $1 billion in spending per day," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. "This current week, which kicked off with Free Shipping Day on Monday the 17th, will be critical in making up some ground on a season-to-date growth rate that remains below initial expectations at 13 percent following a prolonged post-Cyber Monday lull. With many retailers extending their free shipping offers into Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, we just may see the sort of late-season jolt needed to push growth rates back into the mid-teens."

Big sales still expected
Even though the 13 percent growth rate was slightly below expectations, retailers do have the opportunity to make up for any missing sales. The latest results from the Consumer Reports Holiday Poll indicate that many Americans are not quite finished with their holiday shopping and still in the market for last-minute gifts. The data revealed that about 132 million citizens are still in the process of completing their Christmas shopping.

The report showed that consumers have thus far spent a median of $350 on holiday gifts, only 70 percent of the $483 a previous Consumer Reports poll indicated shoppers would spend this season. This hints that there is quite a bit of room in customer budgets to finish their shopping and perhaps spend slightly more than they intended, especially if merchants keep up special holiday deals, such as those like free shipping or deep discounts many online retailers offer. Merchants may expect to find their stores more crowded days leading up until Christmas, as more procrastinators seek out last minute purchases for loved ones and may consider keeping holiday supply chain optimization strategies in place until after the holiday.
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