December Online Jewelry, Watch Sales Down 24%

Online jewelry and watch sales for nearly the entire month of December fell 24 percent when compared to a similar period in 2007, according to digital tracking firm comScore.

Overall online sales fell 3 percent for the entire holiday period (Nov. 1 – Dec. 24), the Reston, Va.-based company said.

In comparing category results, the company compared 2008 sales from Dec. 1 to Dec. 24 with 2007 sales from Nov. 26 to Dec. 19. It did not say why it made such a comparison but it may be because Dec. 19 in 2007 could have been the last day to order gifts to be sent in time for Christmas Day, while this year gifts were able to be ordered as late as Dec. 24 for Christmas delivery.

Using this comparison, the top product category was sports and fitness with an 18 percent increase in sales followed by video games, counsels, and accessories (14%) and apparel and accessories (4%). In fact these were the product categories tracked by comScore to gain in sales for the December period.

In addition to jewelry and watches, categories which saw the greatest year-to-year drop in sales were computer software sales (down 24%); office supplies (down 30%); and music, movies, and videos (down 32%).

“Clearly, 2008 was an extremely challenging time for many retailers, and the beginning of 2009 may not be much better. But when the consumer economy eventually does rebound, e-commerce is poised to benefit from its emergence as an important consumer sales channel,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.

ComScore also analyzed non-travel e-commerce spending by household income segment for the holiday shopping season, revealing that growth in online spending only occurred within households making at least $100,000 in annual income (up 7 percent), while lower income segments logged significant declines in spending. Those households earning less than $50,000 per year appear to be the most affected by the current economic environment, with their online spending declining by 13 percent versus year ago. Households with earnings from $50,000 to $99,000 saw an 8 percent drop in spending for the period.