Online Holiday Sales Up 15 Percent Over 2010

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Online retail sales this holiday season have reached $32 billion to date. That's a 15 percent increase over last year. And for the first time, a sizable number of shoppers — about 8 to 9 percent — used their smartphone or tablets to purchase items.


Online retail is seeing a healthy spike this holiday season. According to the Web research firm Comscore, between Thanksgiving and last week, online sales were up 15 percent over last year.

And as NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, it's largely because consumers are finding more ways to avoid the shopping mall.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Gian Fulgoni estimates 90 percent of his holiday dollars were spent online. Of course, Fulgoni is chairman of Comscore, which monitors online traffic. But he says the things that appeal to him increasingly appeal to the broader shopping audience.

GIAN FULGONI: The two drivers of e-commerce are convenience and price.

NOGUCHI: Fulgoni says this year there was more free shipping, and retailers continued to discount. And for the first time, he says a sizable number of shoppers - about 8 to 9 percent - used their smart phones or tablets to buy.

FULGONI: And what's happening is that people are taking these devices, they're going into a physical store, touching and feeling the product, and then before they're ready to buy, they scan the bar code on the product. They're off online and finding a better price. And that's causing some real issues at retail, because they're finding that they're competing with the Internet in their own stores, which is, as some have said to me, their worst nightmare.

NOGUCHI: Still, business isn't collapsing for brick-and-mortar stores. They're expected to also do better than last year. The National Retail Federation expects overall holiday sales to increase by almost 4 percent.

Yuki Noguchi NPR News, Washington.

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