A strong holiday will push 2004 online retail sales to record highs

Online retail spending (excluding travel) will exceed $15 billion during the November/December holiday shopping season, comScore Networks reports. This represents an increase of 23% to 26% compared to last year’s season. Total non-travel spending for the fourth quarter of 2004 will pass the $20 billion threshold for the first time ever.

Americans spent $250 million online on Nov. 26 (“Black Friday”), up 41% compared to $178 million in 2003, according to the report.

While Thanksgiving is still a comparatively light online shopping day, spending was up dramatically compared to last year, according to the survey. This year, consumers spent $133 million online on Thanksgiving, an increase of 100% compared to the $67 million spent online last year. The Reston, Virg.-based consumer research company said the strong growth on Thanksgiving Day and “Black Friday” may be partially driven by increased home broadband penetration, making the online shopping process faster and more convenient.

Sales during the five days ending Nov. 26, were particularly strong, helping to offset somewhat softer sales earlier in November, the company said. During that week, online retail sales were $1.23 billion, an increase of 35% compared to the corresponding days in 2003.

Online retail spending through Nov. 26 (“Black Friday”) was $5.7 billion, an increase of 23% compared to $4.6 billion during the corresponding days in 2003.