Online holiday sales are cooling off, study

Online shopping in the United States is cooling off and lower year-over-year sales are expected for the next three weeks leading up to Christmas Day because of an initial surge in shopping traffic during November, a new study suggests.

Estimated online sales for the week ending Sun. Dec. 3 totaled US$1.34 billion up 50 per cent compared with last year, but much lower than the 139 per cent jump experienced the week ending Sun. Nov. 26, a new PC Data study commissioned by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. released Monday suggests. Online sales from Oct. 31 through Dec. 3 are estimated at $5.6 billion and are up 169 per cent year-over-year, the study finds.

Still, holiday sales – defined by the company as sales made during the fourth quarter – for online retailers appear healthy and could come in 50 per cent to 100 per cent ahead of last year’s holiday sales, according to the study. Sales on the Internet are expected to peak the week of Dec. 17, with shipping deadlines ranging from Dec. 18 to Dec. 23.

In specific markets, online toy sales are up 78 per cent year-over-year, while book, movie and video sales were up 150 per cent, for the period between Oct. 31 and Dec. 3. Meanwhile, online sales of consumer electronics products are up 213 per cent year-over-year during the same time period, the study found. Bellwether online retailer Inc. ranks tops in books and video sales and also ranks in the top five in music, electronics and toy sales, according to the study.

Goldman Sachs, in New York, can be reached at